Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Flesh, God's Will, Idols, Loyalty, Scripture

MY PLEASURE

ZEPHANIAH 1:5

“‘And those who bow down on the housetops to the heavenly lights, and those who bow down and swear to the LORD, but also swear by Milcom,’”

When I was in my early teen years, I worshipped pleasure. Now, I didn’t say that out loud, but my actions all pointed to that. I still attended church and even sang in the youth choir, but my heart was pledged to something else. All I desired was pleasure. I didn’t really care what the source was as long as it felt good. I did not call it a god, but it was.

The people of Judah had turned to worshipping all sorts of idols. One was worshipped on their housetops through incense. They worshipped the Sun and Moon. And they even worshipped the detestable idol of the Ammonites, Milcom (also known as Molech). This god was brought into the nation by King Solomon when he was pursuing his own way.

APPLICATION

Ask yourself whom you serve? Oh Carl, of course I serve God. I attend church every week and even put money in the offering plate. I’ve taught Sunday School for decades. That’s all well and good, but whom do you worship? For whom are you living? Is your god the God of the universe or some figure you have developed in your own mind that fits your lifestyle?

So many of us go through life thinking we are doing the “Christian thing” well. We go to church, we serve and even get baptized. We can do all those things well and still miss God by a mile. God desires complete surrender. We have to give Him our all. When we worship, it has to be all about Him. Nothing from the world can make our worship better. We have to be centered on Him and bow only to His will.

I don’t like not getting my way. I’m just like most people in that regard. But I have learned to yield my desires to Jesus. There is pleasure in serving a holy, righteous God. There is pleasure in knowing I am pleasing Him. My pleasure senses have been transformed through His Word and His Will. Yours can be too.

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me what real pleasure is all about.

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Bible, Family, Loyalty, Relationships, Scripture, Wealth, Worship

WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?

HABAKKUK 1:16

“Therefore, they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net, because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.”

People worship stuff. There, I said it. We worship sports. We worship money. We worship prestige and fame. We have done it for centuries. Whatever we put most of our time and attention to becomes our god (notice I put a little “g” there). When will we ever learn that there is only One True God?

The Chaldeans literally worshipped their instruments of war. They would praise their swords and spears. They would claim their strength as their god. This was a common practice then and one that continued for centuries. Warriors in many countries often sacrificed to their weapons and swore allegiance to them, as if they were gods.

APPLICATION

So, this begs the question of us. What do we worship? I know you are going to be quick to say, Carl, I only worship God. Really? Then where do you spend your resources? How much time do you really give God? Do you worship Him in Spirit and in truth? John tells us to do that in John 4:24. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

I live in the South where football is King. I’m talking about American football, of course. This time of the year people spend hours engrossed in a ballgame that will be forgotten next year. But we won’t spend 30 minutes with our Lord. I know I am meddling. And I must confess that I watch football, too. But it is not my god. It can never replace that relationship.

Your god may be your family. You spend every moment thinking of and caring for your family, but you neglect your time with Jesus. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family, but we need to spend time with the One who adopted us into His family. Ask yourself today what your god is. Is it Jesus or something else?

I seek You, Lord. I want to know You more so I have to spend time with You.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Eternity, Loyalty, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

DISAPPEARING ACT

NAHUM 3:17

“Your courtiers are like the migratory locust. Your officials are like a swarm of locusts settling in the stone shelters on a cold day. The sun rises and they flee, and the place where they are is not known.”

Who doesn’t love a good disappearing act?! I can still remember David Copperfield making a Boeing 747 disappear. That plane is probably still wandering somewhere, lol. We all know that the plane didn’t really disappear, but the illusion was breath taking.

Nineveh would soon disappear, just like the locusts as soon as the sun rises. During the cool nights, they piled on top of each other to stay warm. They were a mass of wiggly insects. Nineveh compares the army of Nineveh in that same fashion. They were so numerous they resembled this horde of locusts at night.

APPLICATION

Unlike the strength of Nineveh that disappeared never to return, our Lord will never disappear. He is with us forever. He remains by our side through this life. Then we will reign with Him forever in the eternal. He will never, never disappear.

I worked with a lot of children during my 30+ years in the Child Welfare system. Many of them had disappearing parents. Mom or dad or both deserted them. The damage done to those precious children would break your heart. I am so grateful for parents who were present in my life all the way up to the time of their homegoing. And one day we will be reunited.

I am also grateful that my heavenly Father is always there. I may not always feel that, but that is because I have drifted away. He is still there. Jesus will never disappear on you. He is there, faithful and true, always ready to lend you His hand. Will you take it?

Place your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters. Place your hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the seas.

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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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Bible, Boasting, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Enemies, Envy, Loyalty, Mercy, Protection, Rejoicing, Relationships, Scripture

NO GLOATING

OBADIAH 12

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast on the day of their distress.”

I haven’t mentioned that my alma mater, the University of Georgia, won the National Collegiate Football Championship. The only thing better than that is seeing my school’s archrival, the University of Florida, lose. Lol. When they lose and my team wins, I can gloat just a bit. Sorry Gator fans.

God warned Edom to stop their gloating over Judah’s demise. They were actually celebrating the fact that Judah was being defeated by their enemies. They didn’t come to their defense. They were cheering on the nations who were carrying their brothers into exile. That’s kind of messed up.

APPLICATION

Whose demise are you rejoicing over? We still do this today. We watch people we don’t like have troubles, and we inwardly rejoice. What?! Yes! Even believers do this. That’s right. Believers rejoice when others suffer. You don’t believe me? Just listen to the conversations around you.

We have to stop doing that. We have no right to watch someone else suffer, friend or foe, and rejoice. Don’t get me wrong. I believe enemies of the cross should be confronted. If they don’t repent, they will suffer. But I don’t believe the Lord wants to see that. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t want to see anyone face judgment without Him.

I am so grateful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am filled with His Spirit, so I should see everyone as He does – a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you join me in clarifying our view of others – all others? Let’s link arms and lift up those who have fallen – not look on and gloat.

O Father, forgive me when I have that inner twinge of self-righteousness brought on when I see someone suffer.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Comfort, Encouragement, Fruit, God's Will, Intimacy, Loyalty, Protection, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender, Trust

OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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Abiding, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Devil, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Kings, Loyalty, Obedience, Protection, Scripture

GIVE ME A KING

HOSEA 13:10

“Where then is your king, that he might save you in all your cities; and your judges, to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?”

We always want what we don’t have. It seems we are never satisfied. I can remember when I was a young boy, I always wanted the new toy that someone else had. I just had to have it. I would save up my money until I had enough to buy it. And when I finally had the money and bought it, the thrill lasted about a week. Then I wanted something else.

Hosea is referring to such a time in the life of Israel. Do you remember it? They cried out for a king like the other nations. They were disregarding the fact that God was their King. They needed no other. But the cried out for one, so God gave them Saul. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?

APPLICATION

Are you crying out for another king? Are you disregarding God’s kingship in your life? Stop it! Jesus is your King. He will lead you wherever you need to go. He will provide for you as no other. But you have to follow Him. You have to obey His edicts. Then He will bless you and keep you.

A king demands obedience. A king expects his people to yield to his voice. Jesus is the same. He is a benevolent King. He is the only King who has died for you. No earthly king would do that. They may send others to die for you, but they would not lay down their own life. Jesus has done that. Isn’t that the kind of king you want?

I will serve King Jesus. We are going to serve someone, Jesus or the devil. I served the devil long enough before I came to Christ. He is never satisfied and impossible to please. I serve Jesus because He is so loving and caring. He is always listening and looking out for me. Why wouldn’t I want to serve Him? How about you?

King of my life, I love You. I will serve You here and in eternity.

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Alone, Bible, Deception, Devil, Foolishness, Judgment, Loyalty, Obedience, Opponents, Satan, Scripture, Slaves

WILD DONKEYS

HOSEA 8:9

“For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has paid fees for lovers.”

We have all seen wildlife shows where lions or jackals attack a herd. Have you ever noticed which animal they go after? They attack the young, the weak and the ones who are isolated from the herd. Those animals are easy picking. They lack the protection of the herd.

Hosea compares Israel to a wild donkey that is all alone. They were carried off to Assyria and became a target. Being alone in a foreign land was scary enough but being alone was worse. Assyria carried them there and put them in cities as slaves. They were scattered. They were without their God. They were alone!

APPLICATION

Are you feeling alone? There is no need to feel that way. If you are a believer, you have a family of believers all around you. You need their fellowship and their support. You cannot walk safely on your own. Just like that lone wild donkey, you are a target for the enemy. Satan loves to find a lone believer. His schemes make us easy prey when we are alone.

I belong to a couple of men’s groups that I do life with. They are my allies. They encourage me in my daily walk with Christ and hold me accountable when I fall. They are my brothers. I would not want to even try to live without them. I can tell them anything and know they will hold it confidential.

Having fellow believers around you serves as protection. We can all be on the alert. We can all sound the alarm. When we see a fellow believer all alone, we need to reach out and surround them. They may not know how alone they are and how vulnerable they are. Don’t let them do this alone.

I am so glad I have a family of believers to walk with me, Lord. Help me reach out to those who need others.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Bosses, Brokenness, Commitment, Compassion, Devout, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Loyalty, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LOYALTY

HOSEA 6:6

“For I desire loyalty rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

I’ll never forget getting called into my boss’ office one time. He called me down and before I could even sit down in a chair, he lit into me. He had a list of accusations against me, things I had supposedly done to undermine his authority. This lasted about thirty minutes. When he finished, I asked if I could respond. He said I could, so told him I hadn’t done any of those things. None of them were true.

Loyalty is important. God demands it. He demanded it of the Israelites, and He requires it of us, His children. We can act like the Israelites and make our sacrifices (giving our tithes, serving in the nursery, helping the homeless), but unless we are loyal to Him, He rejects those sacrifices. Just as the burnt sacrifices that smoldered on the altar, our acts of service are just smoldering ashes.

APPLICATION

How do you show your loyalty to a holy God? How can we prove our heart’s desire is for Him? Listen, brothers and sisters, He knows your heart. He knows your motives. You don’t have to do anything. That is not necessary. All you have to do is surrender. You have to stop trying to please Him and just bow.

When we cease striving, we can start thriving. Hey, I like that. Stop working so hard to justify His love. You just have to bow your will to His, just like Jesus did in the garden. Remember that? Not My will, but Thine be done. That should be our heart cry. That shows our loyalty.

I am tired of trying, aren’t you? I am tired of trying to figure it all out. All I want to do is rest in Him. Guess what? That’s what He wants, too. He wants to take us in His warm embrace and snuggle us. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. He loves us so much. Come to Him today.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul rejoice.

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