Accountability, Attention, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confidence, God's Will, Listening, Scripture, Wisdom

SOUND WISDOM

MICAH 6:9

“The voice of the LORD will call to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name: ‘Hear, you tribe. Who has designated its time?’”

My dad was a wise man. He always gave me good advice. Even before he was a believer, I could trust what he said to be true. And once he came to Christ, his wisdom increased because then he had true wisdom. The wisdom of the world does not always match up to the wisdom from God. I miss my wise dad.

In today’s verse, Micah is giving the word of the Lord and says, “and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name.” I like this other translation that reads, “and the man of wisdom shall see thy name.” You see, only the wise can truly recognize the Lord’s voice. Those who are wise according to God’s principles are given that ability to hear Him.

APPLICATION

I want to be known as a wise man. That does not mean I have to grow a long beard and sit on a mountain tip dispensing a secret knowledge. No! Being wise in God’s eyes means listening to Him and doing what He says. It means relying on His Word to direct me in all my decisions. It means recognizing that outside of God, I have no wisdom.

I get asked a lot for my “opinion” on things. My opinion does not mean much. However, my wisdom based on God’s Word can carry a lot of weight. That “weight” is solely dependent on the Word of God. I am helpless without His wisdom. I gladly admit that it is my crutch.

I have been told by some people that religion is just a crutch for people. My relationship with Jesus is so much more than a crutch, but He is One that I will willingly lean on. In fact, I dare not walk anywhere without Him. I know my flesh too well. I pray I can be that wise man who hears the Lord when He calls. His is the only voice I should be tuned in to. How about you?

Lord, I want to hear Your voice and do exactly what You say each and every day.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Relationships, Sanctification, Scripture

ANSWER ME

MICAH 6:3

“My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

I have mentioned before that I spent over three decades working with children and youth in the Child Welfare system. Give me a kid that is vocal and shouting rather than one that will not talk. Even when caught in the act of disobeying, these children will most often not respond to questions. Passive-aggressive is one term used for them.

The people God had chosen to love were acting that way. They had been caught in their sins, and now they were refusing to confess them and talk to their God. Unlike me, God is extremely patient. Psalm 103:8 say He is compassionate and gracious. He just wants to hear from them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear the Lord speaking to you? If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit who indwells you speaks for the Father. He is drawing you towards Him. He is speaking. Will you not talk back? Carl, that is plain crazy. I am not going to talk out loud to Him. Why not? He is as real as you and I.

I love to pray out loud. It helps me clarify what I am saying. It reduces distractions for me. And when I talk to the Lord, guess what? He almost always talks back. Not in an audible voice, but in my spirit. You may ask, How do you know that is the Lord? Because the words line up with His Word.

Now, there have been times when I did not want to answer God when He talked to me. In those times I was not living as I should. I was rationalizing my sins. I was simply resting in my salvation but not living to be sanctified. There is a big difference. Oh, how wonderful to hear His voice. The next time you hear it, answer Him.

Speak Lord, and I will answer. I love to carry on conversations with You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Following, Listening, Scripture, Shepherd

OUR SHEPHERD

MICAH 5:4

“And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.

Have you ever watched a shepherd call his sheep? It is pretty amazing. No matter what they are doing, if they hear his voice, they come (or so I have been told). They do not respond to any other voice, but his. I hope you can view this link. It is a great example of what I am talking about.  Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice? – YouTube

Micah is sharing with the people the rise of the Messiah. He will come and shepherd His flock, if only they will listen. I just love the last phrase of this verse – “because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” Look what has happened in the world for the cause of Christ. It has indeed spread to the ends of the earth.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you hear His voice? Do you hear the Shepherd calling you? You know He is. He wants to guide you. He wants to lead you to green pastures. He wants to guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). Will you let Him?

We are just like those dumb sheep sometimes. We wander off near dangerous bluffs. And when Jesus tries to prod us to safety, we rebel and wind up crashing over the side. Then we blame Him for not protecting us. We place ourselves in danger time after time, when all we have to do is listen for His voice.

I have learned that to hear His voice, I must be spending quality time with Him. That involves prayer, meditation and the study of His Word. His Spirit speaks to me through those. And as I spend more time, I have a clear channel to the throne of grace. How sweet it is to hear His voice early in the morning. Are you listening?

Father, speak to me. Guide, guard and graze me.

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Accountability, Bible, Deceit, Deception, Listening, Perversion, Scripture

TWISTED

MICAH 3:9 

“Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and twist everything that is straight,” 

I have a small deck on the back of my house. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had recently stained and sealed it. In the process of doing that I discovered that one of the posts that supports the deck has twisted over the years. I was not living in this house when the deck was built, but I am sure the builder did not put up a twisted post. Since it was built in 1998, this post has twisted. It will have to be watched to avoid damage to the rest of the deck. 

The “heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel” had twisted the Word. They did this over the years, slowly perverting God’s message to the people. They may have started right, but inserted their own words into the message, deceiving the people from the truth.  

APPLICATION 

We have to be so aware of the preachers and teachers we listen to. We should check what they say with God’s Word to ensure it matches. Any straying from that needs to be rejected. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those kinds of preachers and teachers out there today.  

As we share God’s truths with others, be careful to stay with what He says. Your opinions are not necessarily from God. Check those before you share them. The last thing you want to do is “twist” the message.  

Whenever I preach, I check myself. Handling the Word of God is so serious. We are told as teachers that we are held to a higher standard. James tells us this in James 3:1. “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” That warning should be enough for any of us. 

Father, help me to correctly handle Your Word as I share it with others. 

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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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Accountability, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing, Heaven, Listening, Prayer, Scripture

UNANSWERED PRAYERS 

MICAH 3:4 

“Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time because they have practiced evil deeds.” 

I have heard this so much during my ministry years. God just doesn’t hear me or answer my prayers. Why doesn’t He answer? Our God is always listening to our prayers. However, before He can answer us, we must submit to His authority. We must come to Him in confession. Oh, how He wants to answer. 

The people Micah was talking to were asking the same question. They kept crying out to God to rescue them. They had not taken the most critical step towards answered prayers. They had not repented of their sins. Their sins were serving as a roadblock to heaven. Their sins were bouncing off the gates up there. God heard them, but He could not answer them until they came to Him in repentance. 

APPLICATION 

Now, hear me! I am NOT saying that all unanswered prayers are because of sin in your life. In fact, I believe that a believer’s prayers are ALWAYS answered. Sometimes God says Yes. Other times He says No. Then often He says Not now My child. But He is always listening. He hears our cries. 

If you have lost friends who are blaming God for their unanswered prayers, ask them if they have surrendered their lives to Him first. They may not even know how to go about asking Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. What a privilege it is for us to lead them to the throne of grace. 

I have a couple of prayers that I pray daily. I pray other prayers weekly or monthly. Then finally I have prayers that I pray on occasion for those special requests of friends. But I pray. I love to pray. I love to know that my Lord is interceding at the right hand of His Father each time I pray. I know when I open my mouth to voice my prayers, my Father in heaven bends His ear and listens. Call on Him today. 

Father, thank You for listening to all my feeble attempts of prayer. I know You are careful to do Your perfect Will in each and every requests I make. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Gospel, Listening, Obedience, Prophesy, Scripture

La la la la la

MICAH 2:6

“‘“Do not prophesy,” so they prophesy. But if they do not prophesy about these things, insults will not be turned back.’”

When we were children and we did not want to hear what someone was saying, we would stick our fingers in our ears and say, “La la la la la.” We just did not want to hear it. What would the person do who was telling us what we did not want to hear? One of two things – they would say it louder or stop talking.

The people of Israel did not want to hear what Micah (or any other prophet) was saying. They may have stuck their fingers in their ears. We do not know. It says here there that they said, “Do not prophesy.” In the Hebrew this was a very blunt statement. Kind of like “Shut your mouth.” Hmmm. Does that still happen today?

APPLICATION

Today, people get mad at the preacher if he starts stepping on their toes during a sermon. How dare that preacher say those things to me. Who does he think he is? There is a passage in Malachi 2:6-7 that says, “6 True instruction was in his mouth and injustice was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and justice, and he turned many back from wrongdoing. 7 For the lips of a priest should maintain knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of armies.”

Look at the last part of that verse – “for he is the messenger of the LORD of armies.” That is who is speaking here in Micah – a messenger of the LORD of armies. Today’s preachers/teachers have the same responsibility. And if they are preaching God’s Word correctly, we need to listen. We need to stop putting our fingers in our ears and saying, “La la la la la.” We should do what it says in Malachi – “seek instruction from his mouth.”

I have preached hundreds of sermons in my ministry career. Perhaps thousands – I have not kept count. I know some of those sermons were preached out of my flesh and not from the Lord. That is why I am so careful now to only preach what the Lord gives me. I stick to His Word. Check out whoever you are listening to. Make sure what they say aligns with what God says. And if it does – follow.

O Father, I want to hear Your message from Your spokesman. I want to hear the truth of Your Word.

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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, God's Will, Listening, Obedience

THE SECOND TIME

JONAH 3:1

“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,”

My dad was not one to repeat himself. He believed if he told you to do something, you should do it – period. He was not a demanding father, but he was a firm one. He always made sure you knew exactly what he wanted you to do and might even show you how to do it. Then he expected you to get it done.

Jonah should have listened to God the first time. He could have avoided that trip in the sea. But here we are in chapter 3, and we find Jonah hearing again from the LORD. The LORD had not given up on him. He still had a job for him to do. So, He speaks to him the second time.

APPLICATION

The Lord does not give up on us either. He is patient and kind. He is tolerant of our failures. He is right there ready to pick us up and re-instruct. If you are like me (and Jonah), I don’t listen to the Lord the first time every time. I think I can do it better. I think my way makes more sense. But after He tells me the same message four or five times, I finally get it.

Most of the time, the Lord tells us what to do so we can avoid the belly of the fish (trials). But sometimes, He tells us what to do and we still have to go through that trial. He is just preparing us for what is to come. He wants to teach us a truth to apply to what we are about to live.

I can think of several times in my life when that was the situation. I remember quite vividly how the Lord kept drilling in my head to focus on the eternal and not the temporal. This was right before I went through my second stem cell transplant. Living through that will definitely make you focus on the eternal. There were a few times I thought I was closer to heaven than I was to earth. My point? Listen to God. When He speaks to you, do what He says. He kind of knows what He is talking about.

O God, my Savior, You have spoken and I will obey. I want to listen the first time.

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Confession, Discipline, Distress, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAYERS HEARD

JONAH 2:7

“‘While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.’”

I have heard of some incredible answers to prayer. I am sure you have also. Some of those answered prayers are just about too good to believe. If I had not known the person and situation personally, I would have never believed it. But God has a way of making believers out of unbelievers, doesn’t He?

Don’t forget our scene – Jonah is still in the belly of that fish. He’s been praying to God for the several verses. In the written book we have what may seem to be a short prayer. This prayer may have been given over that three-day period. Here in today’s verse, he is fainting away. I am assuming he must be towards the end of those three days. No water, no food, no light! He is week and feeble, yet he prays, “and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.” Wow!

APPLICATION

Even in your lowest hour, when you are at your weakest. None of us have been where Jonah was. So, we can surely pray to the Lord. We don’t have seaweed and stuff floating around us. But we may have other things trying to drown out our access to our holy God. We can’t let anything distract us from praying.

God is always listening, no matter where we are. We must not forget that God placed Jonah in the belly of that fish for a reason. He places us in our “fish’s belly” for a reason also. He wants to draw all our attention to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to not learn my lessons in a fish’s belly. I want to walk in obedience and do what the Lord asks me to begin with. I have still got a lot to learn about obedience, but I am trying. I am listening. Are you? Or are you content to wallow around in your “fish’s belly”?

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me obedience. I want to learn quickly and do exactly what You tell me.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Gospel, Judgment, Listening, Obedience, Repentance

REPENT

JONAH 1:2

“Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Many years ago, while moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, I was following my wife through the hills of northern Alabama. She had our infant daughter in the car with her, while I was following in the moving truck with our four-year-old son. She was falling asleep and weaving all over the road. In the truck I could not get her attention by flashing my lights or honking my horn. I just knew I was going to watch her drive off the road and down the hill. I was trying to save her, but she wouldn’t listen. (She did finally wake up).

God tells Jonah to go tell the Ninevites how to get saved. He was sending Jonah on a specific mission to a specific people. God had seen “their wickedness” and decided it was time to take action. He wanted to give them the chance to be forgiven and come to Him.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to get someone’s attention about God? Some people are like my wife in that car. They can’t seem to hear the cries from God for them to come to Him. They are locked on to their own path and nothing is going to deter them. They don’t even know they are about to drive off a cliff.

Others God knows are just ripe for the harvest. He has already prepared their hearts. That’s why sometimes it is so easy to lead someone to Christ. They are like the Ninevites – eager to know the truth.

Boy, I am so glad I heard the words of the Lord. I am thankful He has caused me to turn towards Him and receive salvation. I am trying to be more mindful of those opportunities to share the Gospel. I’m not judged by their response. I am judged by God only by my decision to be obedient. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving me and giving the opportunity to share with others.

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

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