Bible, Commands, Distractions, Exalting, God's Will, Gospel, Hearing, Inspirational, Scripture

PROCLAIM

JONAH 3:2

“‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’”

Whenever I have a sermon to prepare, I spend as much time praying about the passage as I do studying the passage. I want to make sure I am hearing from the Lord as to what He would have me say. I can come up with a sermon. That’s not a problem. But I want to speak His message, not mine.

The Hebrew text could be translated “preach to it the preaching.” In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “proclamation” is only used one time in the OT – right here. Why is that? I always wonder that. I believe the Lord wants us to take a good look at His message to Jonah. Notice how His message differed a little from the first time. “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.” The Lord, I think, wanted Jonah to get to Nineveh and then He would reveal His message.

APPLICATION

What is the message the Lord has given you today? To whom do you need to go and proclaim it? As I write this blog, I am in Norway preparing to take part in a men’s conference. Our main speaker is always sensitive to receiving “downloads” from God. He wants to make sure what he is speaking is from Him.

Right now, he is still waiting on his luggage to get here. That’s a distraction. He is aware of that. So, we are gathering in few minutes to pray for clarity of thought and message. When we get that message from the Lord, the devil does not want us to deliver it and will do everything he can to distract us. Don’t let that happen.

Receiving God’s message is sweet. Hearing His voice and knowing it is Him is precious. But sweeter still is delivering that message and seeing people come to Christ. It is His message, not yours. It is His results, not yours.

Let me hear Your message clearly, Lord. I want to speak only Your words to others.

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Advocate, Affliction, Asking, Belief, Bible, Darkness, Distress, Fear, Inspirational, Prayer, Scripture

DISTRESS

JONAH 2:2

and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I called for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.’”

Have you ever been in distress? Through my illness and my two stem cell transplants, I can honestly say there were times I felt in distress. I was in anguish. I felt afflicted. Those were very adverse times. My health was fading, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. All I could do was turn to the Lord.

Jonah was in distress. His words remind me of Psalm 118:5 that says, “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” I find that kind of humorous – “a large place.” Jonah was indeed set in a large place – the belly of a big fish. He probably preferred a different setting.

APPLICATION

When you are in distress, what do you do? Who do you turn to? Some of us turn to alcohol. Others turn to drugs. Some get so involved in church they forget their distress. None of these work. You cannot medicate yourself or busy yourself out of distress. There is only one answer – Jesus.

Even in the belly of that fish, Jonah knew God would hear him. He did not know how God would answer, but at least He knew his prayers were ascending. They were not bouncing off the walls of that belly. We often feel our prayers are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere. Do not doubt the hearing capability of God.

There are so many examples I could give you of how God came through for me during times of distress. He would send a friend to see me in the hospital. He might burden someone to email me or call me. Just call on Him amid your distress. He can work miracles in and through us, if we will just believe.

O Lord, I have called on You many times, and You have always come through for me.

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Attention, Bible, Busyness, Calling, Commands, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

THE WORD OF THE LORD

JONAH 1:1

“The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,”

“I give you my word.” We’ve probably heard those words spoken to us a lot over the years. Someone is trying to get you to side with them about something. Perhaps someone is trying to convince you of the reliability of something they are selling you. Whatever the reason, we may just not believe their word is reliable.

BUT…when God says those words, you can take it to the bank. It is dependable. Here, in Jonah 1:1, we see “the word of the LORD came to Jonah.” Don’t read those words and move on. Stop to think about that. The word of the Lord – now that’s something. God spoke to Jonah. He had something to say.

APPLICATION

Is God talking to you? You know, He has something to say to each and every one of us. We just have to be listening in order to hear it. That’s our problem. We are so busy, we don’t hear Him. We don’t hear Him telling us to do this or that. We go on our merry way without regard to the Master’s words.

God doesn’t waste His breathe. When He speaks, it is with purpose. God always has a reason behind His words. When He says “Go” we need to go. He’ll tell us where when it’s time. When He says “Give” reach into the back pocket of the guy in front of you and give like you never have. Just kidding. But we need to give “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Listen for God’s word to you today. You can hear Him in His Word as you study. You can hear Him in your prayer time (stop talking and listen). But then, when you hear Him, DO WHAT HE SAYS!!! Amen?

Father, I want to hear Your word today. I want to hear Your instructions for my life.

Check out our ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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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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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Gentleness, Inspirational, Looking, Scripture

MY FATHER’S EYES

AMOS 9:4

“And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword and it will kill them, and I will set My eyes against them for harm and not for good.”

When my children were growing up, they were very different. My son, the eldest, was typically more compliant. He was the one at whom you could just give a look (you know what I mean) and he would straighten up. He didn’t want to that look. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t respond too well to that look. She didn’t ignore it, but she didn’t quite respond as quickly as our son.

The Israelites ignored the fact that God’s eyes see all. When you read that phrase “I will set my eyes against them for harm and not for good” you may get the impression that God is some kind of cosmic zapper, just waiting for you to mess up. No! God’s eyes are on us all. He just won’t tolerate the wicked, especially those who pretend to be His. He will deal with them.

APPLICATION

Amy Grant had a song in 1979 that really launched her Christian music career. It was her first number one song. It was called “My Father’s Eyes.” That was 43 years ago. Wow! I was still a teenager. Check it out at Amy Grant – Father’s Eyes (Lyric Video) – YouTube (pardon the YouTube commercial).

Part of the lyrics say:

        Eyes full of compassion

        Seeing every pain

        Knowing what you’re going through

        And feeling it the same.

The Father will not leave you hopeless. His eyes are upon you. If you are truly seeking Him, He is there. His eyes are indeed full of compassion, and He does see all your pain. Look fully into the eyes of Jesus today and allow His gaze to wash over you.

Lord, I thank You that Your eyes are always looking at me. You see all.

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Advice, Beauty, Belief, Bible, Creation, Exalting, Glory, Inspirational

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

AMOS 8:2

“And He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will not spare them any longer.’”

There are many advantages to getting older. Senior coffee and discounts, senior matinees at the theater, etc. But one disadvantage is your eyesight. Almost everyone has some loss of vision as they age. That plus two stem cell transplants (chemotherapy) have really changed my eyesight. Thank God for glasses, lol.

God wasn’t giving Amos an eye exam. He wasn’t asking him to read the letters and numbers on a chart. The Lord was giving him a message to share with Israel. He wanted to make sure Amos saw clearly what He was telling him. He wanted his hearing of the message to be reinforced by a vision.

APPLICATION

God often shows us things that we just don’t see. Take for instance, a sunrise. How many of them have you seen in your lifetime? But how often do you stop and thank God for seeing another day? God’s message to us is love. He shows us that love in so many ways, but we often fail to see it.

Let me challenge you to do something. Start taking note of “God sightings.” Those are times when you are made aware of God in something or when there is no other explanation for something. Write those down and put them in a box or jar. At the end of the year, read them. You will be amazed.

I see God in my wife, my children, my grandchildren and even in my “grandpups.” God’s creativity in forming each uniquely amazes me. Take a break and people watch. Look at all the faces God has made. It’s really unbelievable. Yet, God never stops creating. I thank God for that today. Yes, God, I see.

I praise You for eyes that can see. Help me see as You do.

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Abiding, Beauty, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Modeling, Scripture

MATH PROBLEMS

AMOS 5:3

“For this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.’”

Who likes math? That’s what I thought – no one. Lol. Seriously though, I actually like math. I think it’s because I can see the problem and come to an answer. It’s the finality of it. Math can be fun, unless you are experiencing real life math that involves your life. For instance, subtraction could mean the loss of a loved one or another kind of loss. That kind of math is painful.

Israel was going to experience subtraction. Look at what the Lord says to them. They were going to lose 90% of their warriors (1000-900 = 100, 100-90 = 10). That’s a huge loss. That kind of loss would be devastating to the nation. The Lord is warning them. He has spoken.

APPLICATION

You may not like math, but it’s a part of life. Sometimes we have addition, while at other times we may experience multiplication. Division can also occur. Look at your life right now. Which are you experiencing and why? The answer to those questions should point out some things for you.

I would love to see multiplication more prevalent in everyone’s life. I would love to see people get excited about making disciple makers. That’s multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:18-20). By focusing on multiplication, we may see few subtractions.

And you know what? Multiplication sees bigger and faster results than addition. That’s how Jesus intended us to make disciples – to make disciple makers. That way our work grows exponentially. Unfortunately, most churches seem to be stuck on subtraction – people leaving. We can turn that around if we are obedient to the Great Commission. Will you be a part of that math problem?

Lord, help me focus more on multiplication and less on subtraction and division. I want to be a disciple maker.

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Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Creation, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Relationships, Scripture

WHAT’S YOUR NAME

AMOS 4:13

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, and declares to a person what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of armies is His name.”

Throughout my over four decades of ministry, I have sought to learn the names of the children I was serving. There is something about being called by your name. But I have had to develop some tricks to help me. I have used acrostics to memorize the names of multiple children in a family. I have used hair color or a birthmark to help. There was usually something about the child that I could remember that would trigger the name.

God tells us who He is in is verse before He tells us His name. Look at what He does. He forms the mountains and creates the wind. That’s pretty powerful. He knows our thoughts. That’s a little scary, right? He controls the sunlight and walks on mountaintops. Then He says, “the LORD God of armies is His name.” In other words, He is in charge! Period!

APPLICATION

While all these attributes might be terrifying, I find comfort in them. If God can do all that, He can certainly handle my little problems. The LORD God of armies cares enough about little, ole me to hear my prayers and dry my tears. The LORD God of armies loves me enough to send His own Son to rescue me from an eternal damnation.

No matter how little I may feel, He still reaches down with His powerful right hand and scoops me up to safety. In fact, He will send those armies of His to my rescue. I am His child, and He will protect me. Even when He is busy forming mountains and creating wind, I am on His mind. That’s mind boggling.

I am so thankful that my God is not too big for me. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. God, of course, is big. He is too big for my mind. But He isn’t too big that He forgets about me. In fact, He wants to hear from me every day. He wants to hear from you, too. Talk to Him. Tell Him your needs. I promise He can fit you in.

O God of the universe, I praise You for looking on me. I know You are forever mindful of my needs and desires.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Confession, Consequences, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Scripture

CLOSER TO HOME

AMOS 2:4

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they rejected the Law of the LORD and have not kept His statutes; their lies also have led them astray, those which their fathers followed.’”

I have three siblings. I have a brother (who is in heaven now) and two sisters, one older and one younger. You can imagine with the four of us growing up together, there were plenty of times when we got in trouble. I used to love it when my siblings got in trouble, and I didn’t. I especially liked that when I had done the instigating. I thought I had escaped the wrath of mom or dad. Lol

Israel, who is receiving these prophecies from Amos, just leaped about ten feet off the floor when they heard Amos proclaim verse 4 of chapter 2. Judah was their sister, with whom they have been fighting for generations, ever since the kingdom divided. They knew THEY deserved punishment. It was about time. Right? Right!

APPLICATION

But oh, how quickly we forget. We have done the same if not worse things. I knew every time my siblings got caught and I didn’t that my time was coming. I was just as deserving as they were of the punishment that was headed their way. But did I run up to mom or dad and confess my sins? No way. I was free from that – this time.

We can’t do that with God. He knows our every move. Nothing escapes His eyes. 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.” You see, He is always watching, but He had much rather catch us doing good than doing bad. That’s true with any parent, isn’t it?

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit in my life who directs me to do good. He quickly convicts me of wrong and sets me back on the right path. I pray you have that same Holy Spirit in your life. If you don’t, surrender to Jesus today, and He will send His Spirit to live within you. You will never be the same!

O God, thank You for not only convicting me but for also catching me doing good. I want to please You.

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