Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Fruit, God's Will, Judgment, Loyalty

PARTING GIFTS

MICAH 1:14

“Therefore you will give parting gifts in behalf of Moresheth-gath; the houses of Achzib will become a deception to the kings of Israel.”

When my wife and I got married over 36 years ago, we were given wedding gifts by friends and family. Some gave money (something a new couple can always use) and others bought things we would need for our home. Wedding gifts are pretty customary in most countries. Some actual require a dowry.

The phrase “parting gifts” can have that meaning – a dowry. You see Judah had so broken their covenant with God that He was giving them over to the pagan invaders. He said to even give them the dowry. He was parting company with them. The deception of idolatry had penetrated the very heart of Judah.

APPLICATION

We need to be very careful what we allow to enter our lives. Satan is sneaky. He loves to slither into our lives and get us to do things we never thought we would do. 2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

It can happen so quickly. Before you know it, we are participating in things that God frowns on. God will not allow His children to live in sin. Rebuke will come. Correction will happen, sooner or later.

So, what do we do to protect ourselves? We wrap ourselves in Jesus. If you have not read John 15 lately, do that. John explains it so well. We have to abide in the vine. If we do that, if we cling to Him, we will be doing His will and not ours. Abide in Him.

Father, I would never want to hear You tell me to depart Your presence. I know I am secure in Christ. Help me walk closer each day.

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Accused, Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Judgment, Scripture, Witnessing

JUDGMENT ALL AROUND 

MICAH 1:11 

“Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness. The inhabitant of Zaanan does not escape. The mourning of Beth-ezel: ‘He will take from you its support.’” 

People all around us are reaping the consequences of a sinful lifestyle. I am not talking about a sin that you committed by accident. I am referring to lifestyles that are ungodly and rebellious. When we see those Individuals suffer for their wrong, what is our response? 

Shaphir, Zaanan and Beth-ezel were all cities or villages in Judah. They were all guilty of sinning against the Lord, and therefore, they would suffer the wrath of a holy God. That last phrase, “He will take from you its support,” is a frightful message. No one wants to live their lives without God’s support. 

APPLICATION 

If we know judgment is going to fall all around us, how should we respond? We should be about the Father’s business. There are people in our neighborhood who are clueless about the coming judgment of God. There are others who may have heard, but just don’t believe. And there are still others who believe it is coming but just don’t care. What do we do? 

We preach Jesus to them all. We have to believe that His Word will not come back void (Isaiah 55:11). If we are consistent and true to His calling, He will use us to get His message out. The results are totally up to Him. We cannot predict how anyone will respond to the Gospel. 

I want to share with someone every day. I would love to see all my neighbors and friends embrace my Lord. If you are like me, you probably have family members who are going to face judgment one day without Christ. Let’s all commit to reach out to those loved ones with the love of Christ. 

O God, I praise You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to pay the price for my sin so that I will never face that judgment. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture, Sin

SIN TRAVELS 

MICAH 1:9 

“For her wound is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has reached the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” 

It is unfortunate, but our sin does not just affect us. It has the nasty side effect of infecting other people. I can remember “leaking” my sin on others. Before I came to Christ, my lifestyle was not good. I led others into the same sins I was committing. For that I am forever sorry. I have spoken to most, if not all, of those individuals and asked them to forgive me. 

Israel’s sins made the journey to Judah. They were influenced by their pagan worship. They, in fact, welcomed it. So, now the punishment that was going to fall on Israel would also come upon Judah. Sin is always followed by judgment. It may not happen right away, but it will come. 

APPLICATION 

It just makes sense to not spread your sin. Better yet, just don’t sin. Right? Well, that’s easier said than done, Carl. Oh, how I know. I try every day to avoid sin, but it always seems to find me. It just jumps on me. I am like a sin magnet. My heart is to avoid it and run to God. Most of the time I am successful doing that. But there are times… 

So, when your sin travels down the road and affects someone else, what do you do? One – you ask the Lord to forgive you. Two – you ask the person you affected with your sin to forgive you. Three – you put things into place to help you avoid that situation again. 

We may not be able to avoid all sin, but we can sure do our part to put barriers in front of it. I truly believe we can live lives that honor our Lord without the guilt of sin. If we are seeking Him with all our hearts and spending time with Him each day, the Holy Spirit will lead us in godly living, not sinful behavior. What barriers do you need to build today to protect yourself from that? 

O Lord, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit convicts and guides me. Help me to listen quickly. 

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Destruction, Fire, Foundation, Judgment, Scripture

FOUNDATIONS

MICAH 1:6 

“For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, planting places for a vineyard. I will hurl her stones down into the valley and lay bare her foundations.” 

I had the privilege recently to tour some ruins of a Roman bathhouse just outside of Estaban, Albania. When we arrived at the site, I could not see anything. There was a small path leading up from the gravel road past a house and through a small opening. There were some workers that had started clearing the overgrowth on the path. I could have driven right by that spot and never seen the ruins. They had been there for @2000 years but had no real value today. 

Micah is telling the people of Israel that God is about to make Samaria into “a heap of ruins.” The great city which they were so proud of would be reduced to rubble. He would expose the foundations for generations to come, just like those Roman bath house ruins. God’s judgment is real. 

APPLICATION 

On what are you building your foundation? On whom are you resting? If you are building on anything other than Jesus, your walls will crumble. Those stones that were laid 2000 years ago for that Roman bath house were laid bare for all to see. I literally walked on stones that the Roman soldiers walked on. But those stones were good for nothing. They had crumbled through the centuries. 

However, when we build our life on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ, we can withstand all time and trials. No wind or storm or rain or fire can tear down walls built by Jesus. When we set Him down as the chief cornerstone in our life, all the rest of our lives are resting on Him. 

My life has had some challenges. For the sake of time, I will not enumerate them. But at the age of sixteen, I placed my trust in the One who cannot be torn down. He has kept me through all these years. I may have some chipped stones in my building, but my foundation is strong. Praise Jesus! 

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a sure foundation in Jesus Christ. 

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Christ's Return, Death, Destruction, Direction, Eternity, Faith, Fire, God's Will, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

MELT LIKE WAX 

MICAH 1:4 

“The mountains will melt under Him and the valleys will be split, like wax before the fire, like water poured down a steep place.” 

What kid doesn’t like to watch a melting candle? Watching the flame slowly heat up the wax and cause it to drip is awesome. I remember getting some candles my mom had and lighting them to let the wax drip on my fingers. It was neat to watch it form around them and then get hard again. Wax was fun. 

However, the wax Micah is referring to is not fun. There is nothing fun about it. He is portraying the fiery judgment of the Lord. We all have read about how the earth will be destroyed by fire at the final judgment, right? Listen to Isaiah 66:15. “For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” 

APPLICATION 

I am not implying that the world is going to end tomorrow in a fire storm. However, I am pointing out that judgment is coming. The Lord will not tolerate the sin of this world. In His holiness He must judge those who are disobedient and rebellious. He has no choice. If he does not do that, His Law and His plan for salvation, Jesus Christ, means nothing. 

So, get ready for melting mountains and valleys. God will judge the high and low. Your position in life means nothing. Everyone will have to bow their knee and profess Jesus as Lord or face eternal flames. 

Wow! This is kind of hard. I do not want to come across as some fire and brimstone preacher. That is not me. I am just telling you what is coming. It was prophesied centuries ago. Are you ready? Is your family ready? If not, make that change today and embrace your salvation. 

O Lord, I praise You for the plan You made to redeem me back to Yourself. Help me lead others to Jesus. 

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Accountability, Bible, Christ's Return, Commands, Creation, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

THE FOUR ELEMENTS

JONAH 4:8

“And when the sun came up God designated a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint, and he begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life!’”

Can you name the four basic elements of matter? No, this is not a science test. They are earth, water, air and fire. Now, we all know Who created these elements, don’t we? The Supreme Creator of all creation spoke these into existence thousands of years ago (that’s right, I said thousands, not millions). He controlled them then and does now.

Do you realize God used all four of these, plus a few created things, to speak to Jonah? He used the sea (water) and the fish, the plant (earth), the scorching east wind (air) and the sun (fire). I wonder if God was trying to send Jonah a message about just Who He was. There was nothing that God could not and would not use to accomplish His Will.

APPLICATION

God is sending us messages today through all of these. The Word says that all of creation will moan as the day nears for His Son to return. Man, have we seen the earth moan in the past few years? There has been a dramatic increase in earthquakes, storms, weather extremes, etc. The scientific community explains these away as global warming or some other theory. Did you know there have been 10 earthquakes in the past three days measuring 5.5 or greater?

God is trying to get our attention just as He did Jonah. We read this story about Jonah and easily point fingers and judge. But we are just as guilty. What was God trying to show Jonah? That He was a merciful God who desires that all come to Him. We are just as unwilling to share the good news as Jonah. We may not run to Tarshish and board a ship, but we sit idly by while the earth tumbles into eternity.

Do not wait for the earth, air, fire or water to send you the message. Pick up your copy of God’s Word and go share the good news with a lost and dying world. Tell your neighbors. Tell your waitress at the restaurant. Tell everyone you meet that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, if only they will turn to Him.

I love to tell the story. It will be my theme in glory. To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

GOING EAST

JONAH 4:5

“Then Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade, until he could see what would happen in the city.”

I know people who are directionally challenged. They could not tell you which way was east if their life depended on it. On a recent trip I made to Albania, I got out my trusty phone compass to identify which direction east was so I could watch for the next morning’s sunrise. I had made a lot of turns that day and was a bit confused on the direction. I like that little compass.

In Scripture, going east is used to show men moving away from God. Going east represents the world. Going west represents holiness. Jonah went east (away from God). He had probably waited the forty days of his prophecy and then went out to see what would happen. He still seemed to have hope that God would strike Nineveh for their sins, even though they had repented.

APPLICATION

What direction are you going? East or west? Are you moving away from God or towards Him? Let me tell you something. Going east does not solve anything. We need to always be moving west towards God. Now, I do not mean we need to literally move west. I am speaking symbolically here.

Many times, something bad happens and we withdraw from God. We do not understand His actions or lack of action. For instance, the recent school shooting in Texas has people both crying out to God and blaming God. God did not cause that shooting. Get that out of your head. God has no part of evil. But evil exists in this world. We must cling to God in the presence of evil and trust Him to get us through these kinds of tragedies.

I choose west. I choose to move towards God, no matter the ramifications. I know I can trust Him. I know He knows what is best for me. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust Him. Will you join me on my westward journey?

I will move towards You, Lord. Westward I will go!

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Advice, Anger, Battles, Bible, Bitterness, Darkness, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

MAD AT GOD

JONAH 4:1

“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”

Have you ever been mad at God? Maybe something didn’t go your way, so you blamed God. Perhaps you got sick and suffered greatly, so you got angry and refused to talk to Him. Maybe you lost a loved one prematurely, so, of course, it’s God’s fault. You are not alone. We’ve all done it at some point, I guess. Even Jonah!

Nineveh repents of their sins, and God spares them. Jonah should have been jumping up and down and claiming a victory for Jehovah. But Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites. He would have been just as happy if they had been wiped off the face of the earth. You know what? I don’t think God was too concerned that He “displeased Jonah.” God was looking at the big picture.

APPLICATION

What application do you see in this passage? One that I see is something a friend of mine used to say. “There is a God and I’m not Him.” I do not know the mind of God. I do not understand why He does the things He does. It is not for me to know. If He wants me to know, He’ll tell me. Until then, I trust His sovereign hand and serve Him.

Another thing I learn is it is okay to get mad at God. God did not strike Jonah dead because of his anger. If He had, Jonah 4:1 would be the end of the book, but it is not. We have ten more verses to see how God handles this anger of Jonah. God knows we are but dust. He understands the limitations of our minds and our mercy. But He will teach Jonah something.

I have to admit that I have been mad a God before. When I went through my chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant, I had a few days when I was angry. I didn’t lash out at Him, but I just didn’t talk to Him for a few days. I wanted out of this misery I was in and saw no escape. I knew and believed God could have healed me instantly, if He had wanted to, if that had been His plan. But He chose to leave me in the fire a little longer. I understand now, but back then I didn’t. I learned to talk to Him and just spill my guts. He can handle it. There is nothing you can’t tell Him. Talk to Him today.

I praise You, Father, for not getting angry at my anger towards You. Hold me close and remind me how much You love me.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Destruction, Eternity, Evangelism, Faith, God's Will, Gospel, Judgment, Promises, Salvation, Scripture

COUNTDOWN

JONAH 3:4

“Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.’”

No child likes to hear these words from their mother. “Just wait until your Father gets home.” The countdown begins. Knowing what time dad normally arrives home, the child begins to count the hours or minutes until they hear his car or truck pull into the driveway or garage. I don’t necessarily like this approach to child-rearing, but many parents use it.

Jonah was basically telling the Ninevites, “Dad’s coming, and He’s not happy.” Nineveh wasn’t just going to receive a spanking, though. They were going to be overthrown. The Hebrew word here means to overturn or turn over. In other words, life as they knew it was about to change. This is a dire warning. What would they do?

APPLICATION

God still gives us warnings. He may send it through a preacher (like Jonah, minus the fish smell, lol). He may reveal Himself to you in a passage of Scripture. He may speak through a dream. That still happens in many parts of the world where the Gospel has not been shared. I have heard numerous stories of a “man in white” appearing in a dream, giving a message to turn to Jesus.

Whether you heed the warning or not is your decision. Of course, the greatest message we have concerning our eternal doom is revealed in the Bible. That sounds bad. It’s not meant to. But the Word of God points us to a place of repentance and deliverance. And then we receive all the promises of God. He gives us fair warning. It’s spelled out clearly. We just have to believe.

In tomorrow’s blog we will see what the Ninevites do with Jonah’s warning. But I am more concerned with what you will do with it. Have you given your life to Christ? Have you turned over everything to Him? He desires to make you His own. If you have done that, praise the Lord. Now give someone else the warning. Don’t let them perish without a Savior.

God, my Father, You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.

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