Accountability, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Calling, Choices, Discipline, Faithfulness, God's Will, Looking, Modeling, Scripture

ALL FOR NOTHING 

MICAH 6:15 

“‘You will sow but you will not harvest. You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil; and tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.’” 

I have been trying to learn some more Swahili and, for the first time, some French. The app I am using has some timed lessons. If you do not finish the lesson in the time given, you have to start again. All that concentration and all that work for nothing. It can be a little frustrating. 

God told the people that all their work (sowing and treading) will be for naught. They will harvest nothing. They will not get enough oil for anointing or wine to drink. Somehow, they had to learn that all they had came from Him. Those blessings required obedience, which they had not shown. 

APPLICATION 

Are you spinning your wheels for God and getting nothing back? Well, maybe you are spinning the wrong wheels. We make the mistake all the time of “doing” for God. We think if we just stay busy He will bless us. I hate to disappoint you, but that is not how it works. What He initiates He anoints, not what you initiate. 

Now James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). God does want us to serve Him and to accomplish His plans. That requires “doing.” One person has said we have to put feet to our prayers. Just be careful to make sure you clear it with the Lord first. 

I was taught by my dad to show initiative. That is a good trait to have unless your initiative is self-driven and not God-driven. The joy of knowing that you are doing what the Lord has called you to do is so delightful. Do not spin your wheels trying to “do” for God. Stop, pray and let Him show you what it is He would have you do. 

Lord, slow me down and help me see Your grand plan for me. I want to serve where You want me to serve. 

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Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Choices, Consequences, Contentment, Deception, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture

THE RIGHT WEIGHT

MICAH 6:11

“‘Can I justify dishonest balances, and a bag of fraudulent weights?’”

I have this little hand-held baggage scale. You simply wrap the strap around the baggage handle, pick it up and you get the weight. That is necessary when you are flying somewhere because they have restrictions on how much weight you can have in that bag. Too much, and it costs you more. You cannot cheat the scale.

God watches our actions just as closely. He will not tolerate our deceitfulness. The people would try to cheat others in the market by having those fraudulent weight and scales. He had warned the people about this in Leviticus 19:35-36 where it says, “‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or volume. You shall have accurate balances, accurate weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin;’”

APPLICATION

I am reminded of a verse in Job when he was vehemently denying any sin in his life that had caused his suffering. Job 31:6 says, “Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.” Can you say that? I sure cannot most days.

I want my life to be weighed and found not lacking. I want my deeds and words to be always just right on God’s scales. I trust His scales to be accurate and true. If He says I am lacking, I am lacking. If He says I am okay, I am okay. He sees me as righteous because of His Son. Jesus has tipped the scales in my favor.

We have a bathroom scale in our home. Most mornings I weigh myself. It is interesting, though. I can weigh myself and then go to the doctor and weigh five more pounds. I think they set their scales five pounds heavier so they can tell us to lose some weight, lol. Truth is my scales are off five pounds. What really matters is my spiritual weight. With Jesus, I will always weigh correctly spiritually. Is that true for you today?

I am forever grateful for the blood that washed away the weight of my sin and made me righteous in Your eyes, Lord.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Modeling, Obedience, Sin, Treasures

ARE YOU STILL DOING THAT?

MICAH 6:10

“‘Is there still a person in the wicked house, along with treasures of wickedness, and a short measure that is cursed?’”

Bad habits are hard to break. I remember back before I came to Christ, I had lots of bad habits (I do not need to name them all here, lol). One of them was smoking. It took me about six months to quit that habit. It was so addictive that to this day if I smell a cigarette, I want one. Oh, the devil knows our triggers.

The Lord is saying through Micah in today’s verse, “Are you still doing that? Are you still doing those wicked things?” The “short measure” meant they kept coming up short, even though they were bringing in “treasures of wickedness.” Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers it little by little makes it grow.”

APPLICATION

I have never been, nor will I probably ever be rich, at least not in the eyes of the world. My family has never lacked for anything because the Lord has supplied our needs. He has even given us some of our wants. I had a bass boat for a while and really enjoyed it.

My point is when we are living for the Lord, He supplies our needs. He knows exactly what we need each day. Being our heavenly Father, He also likes to bless us with things. What father does not like to do that for his children? There is nothing wrong with having things, as long as those things do not become your focus.

The people of Israel, just like us, had shifted their focus to their treasures. That was all that mattered. Their sins were ripe with that desire. We cannot sit back and point our fingers at them. We do the same thing. Take a few minutes today and look over what the Lord has given you. Give Him praise for all He has done.

Lord, I am not worthy of Your blessings in my life. I am truly a rich man, full of Your mercy.

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Abiding, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Power, Relationships, Scripture

NOT BY MY MIGHT

MICAH 5:13

“‘I will eliminate your carved images and your memorial stones from among you, so that you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.’”

I loved my dad. He could fix just about anything. I learned so much from him about that kind of stuff. I watched and learned. He involved my brother and I in the projects so we could learn to do it ourselves one day. But when he started having some heart issues and was struggling with my mom’s health, he came to the end of his rope and finally admitted to God that he “could not fix this.” Then he gave his heart to Christ at 80 years old.

God is saying in verse 13 that there was nothing they had created by the works of their hands that could save them. Those carved images of wood and stone would not do anything to help them. Those memorial stones they had set up meant nothing. Only their faith and belief in Him mattered. They had to return to Him.

APPLICATION

Well, this application is pretty much in your face, right? What are you trying to prove to God by continuing to try to do it all on your own? I know people who have said, “I do not need your God. I am fine on my own.” That may sound noble, but it is really foolish. Self-reliance leads to self-destruction.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of armies.’” That is the key right there. It is only by the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish anything. Isaiah said something similar in 26:12. “…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” It has never been about what we can do for God. It is only about what He can do in and through us.

I am thankful that God broke me of my self-reliance years ago. Going through two stem cell transplants will cause you to rely on others and especially Him. I could do nothing. I was weak physically, spiritually and emotionally during those times. But He showed me His strength. Do you know that today?

O Father of heaven and earth, You care enough for me to invest Your time and Spirit in me. You have made me Your own.

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Abuse, Accused, Advocate, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Devil, Distress, Encouragement, Enemies, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE 

MICAH 5:9 

“Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries, and all your enemies will be eliminated.” 

The title today is a saying I have heard all my life. Do you recognize it? Picture a tight squeeze that will not let up. You feel pressed from all sides. There is no relief. You do not know how much longer you can go on. Your body is crying out for the pressure to ease up. 

That is the word used here today for “adversaries.” In the Hebrew it means a tight squeeze. In other words, that is the feeling you get when you face adversaries. Of course, Micah tells the people here that their hands will be raised up against those adversaries and they will eliminate or destroy them. Whew! Relief! 

APPLICATION 

I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:8. “Be of sober spirit, keep on the alert, for your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” This adversary is relentless. He never gives up. He is relentless in his pursuit of us. He wants to destroy us. 

I was sharing with a dear brother recently that very fact. He was very aware of it and had been feeling the teeth of this ravaging spirit. Our defense? The Word of God, just like Jesus. We must answer the devil charge after charge with the Word. It is our Sword of the Spirit. 

Most days I am successful at warding off this adversary. I am prayed up and read up. But there are other days when I let my guard down for just a milli-second. In He swoops with fangs exposed going for my jugular. That Is why we all must be of sober spirit and on the alert. We do have victory over our adversaries when we are clinging to Jesus. 

O God, my Savior, I cling to You. I know only through You can I walk in victory each day. 

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Bible, Calling, Direction, Disciplemaking, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HIGH PLACES

MICAH 4:8

“‘As for you, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come—yes, the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.’”

High places have been used time and time again to make announcements. Politicians take to stages to make speeches. Pastors climb into elevated rostrums to deliver their messages. High places give us visibility and allow our messages to be heard more easily.

It only makes sense that these two sites mentioned by the Lord here in Micah 4:8 are both high places. The “tower of the flock” is the Tower of Adel near Bethlehem. It is the spot where supposedly the shepherds received the message from the angels of the birth of Christ. The “hill of the daughter of Zion” refers to Ophel which is a high place on the south side of Jerusalem which was prophesied as the place the Messiah would appear.

APPLICATION

Okay, Carl, enough with the geography lesson. What does this mean for us? I am glad you asked. When we think of a high place, what does that require us to do? We have to look up. The shepherds looked up to see the angels. We have to look up to see Ophel, if we are in Jerusalem. Keep looking up!

Albert Barnes has this to say about these two sites. “Both then are images of lowliness. The lonely Shepherd tower, for Bethlehem, the birthplace of David; Ophel for Jerusalem, of which it was yet but an outlying part, and deriving its value probably as an outwork of the temple. Both symbols anticipate the fuller prophecy of the littleness, which shall become great in God.”

The lowly baby, born in a manger, became the Savior of the world. He was the long-awaited Messiah. His kingdom is not of this world, but His greatness exceeds them all. God will also lift us up if we humble ourselves. If we make ourselves lowly, He will exalt us. Allow the Lord to set you on a high place, so the message he has given you can be heard.

Thank You, Lord, for setting me up so others can hear. Let me never see myself as exalted, but only allow You to exalt me when I humble myself.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Destruction, God's Will, Guilt, Integrity, Judgment, Modeling, Rebuke, Scripture

IT IS YOUR FAULT 

MICAH 3:12 

“Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.” 

No one likes to be accused of something, especially if you are innocent. But what if you are guilty? You know you did it. You deserve the blame. Perhaps you have gotten “away with it” for a while, maybe even years. But now it is out. Your sin has been discovered and has cost others. 

This is exactly where the leaders of Israel and Judah find themselves. Their guilt has been exposed. God knew all the time but is just now bringing forth the charges. The judgment is falling. It cost not only them but the entire nation because the people had followed them right into destruction. 

APPLICATION 

I see two lessons here for us today. One, be careful who you follow. Too many of us are tunnel-visioned. As long as the church looks good on the outside and has all the latest and greatest programs and technology, we think they are on top of it. After all, can’t we trust someone in ministry? Just check your paper or internet stories, and you will find that not to be true. 

Secondly, we must have someone in our lives who can and will hold us accountable. When no one is watching over us, we can resort to all kinds of fleshly decisions. We make our decisions on what “feels” right instead of what God says. Oh, the danger in that. 

I am so glad I am part of a few accountability groups. I meet weekly with two groups and another once per month. I help lead a group of men through our Every Man A Warrior study which demands accountability. If you are not aware of this study, check it out at www.everymanawarrior.com. There is no better way to get a man to go deep with God and be a responsible disciple maker.  

Lord, I am so thankful for the men You have put in my life who will hold me accountable. 

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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Darkness, Devil, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Light, Modeling, Satan, Scripture

LIGHTS OUT

MICAH 3:6

“Therefore it will be night for you—without vision, and darkness for you—without divination. The sun will go down on the prophets, and the day will become dark over them.”

Several times in my life I have had to deal with the loss of electrical power. We are spoiled in the U.S. with electricity that we take for granted. Everything we do seems to depend on it – how we cook, wash our clothes, heat our water and entertain ourselves. So, when the lights go out, it gets out attention.

This was the case with these false prophets. The light had been removed by God because of their ceaseless wanderings. They had pretended to represent the Lord in their prophecies, but now the truth is being revealed by God in His judgment. It was as if they were in a dark room with no light, no hope, no future.

APPLICATION

We are meant to be lights to the world. Jesus tells us so. Just look at Matthew 5:14-16. “14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor 15 do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’”

Do not let your light go dark. Satan loves to throw us into a funk or depression that causes the light of Christ in us to be dimmed. Turn up the flame. Let all see what Christ can do in them. Be the example of a changed life they need to see. When they see the miracle of salvation in you, perhaps the Holy Spirit will tug at their heart to come to Jesus.

I rarely get in a funk, but I was recently. I had some dental work done and was not feeling well. I must admit I wasn’t letting my light shine as it should. I confessed that as sin to the Father and am praying that I will not let future dental work put me in the same mood (I hate going to dentist. Nothing personal against my dentist friends out there). Let your light shine today.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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Accused, Bible, Consequences, Deceit, Evil, Modeling, Scripture, Truth

SNAKE BITTEN

MICAH 3:5

“This is what the LORD says concerning the prophets who lead my people astray: ‘When they have something to bite with their teeth, they cry out, “Peace!” But against him who puts nothing in their mouths they declare holy war.’”

I have never been bitten by a snake. Thank goodness. I grew up around them, though. In Southwest Georgia we have rattlesnakes, coral snakes and cotton-mouth moccasins. That last one is the mean one. They will actually come after you. I remember fishing in my uncle’s ponds and having to shoot them as they tried to get in the boat with us. Mean snakes.

The Lord is comparing the false prophets of their day to snakes. The Hebrew word for “bite” is used primarily to describe the serpent’s bite. A serpent’s bite is never good. The people knew that. But these false prophets would latch on and not let go. They attacked those who did not go along with their message and declared “holy war” on them. How dare they not agree?

APPLICATION 

It is human nature to attack people who disagree with us. That does not make it right. In fact, following our human nature seldom leads us to the right thing. Our human nature is sinful, fleshly and only wants to please itself. Whether we are extolling something that is true or false, we want those listening to be in agreement. If they are not, then “off with their heads.” Not literally, lol.

We have probably all known people who act that way. They are really hard to be around, aren’t they? Don’t be that person. Don’t act like they do. Stick with the truth of God’s Word, and you will be fine. The moment you veer off course of that, you are preaching a false narrative.

As I share with others, I try to always be careful that everything I am saying is truthful. I double check stories I may use as an illustration. I double check any statistics I may use also. I do not want to be accused of stretching the truth or an outright falsehood. If others do not agree with the truth, that is between them and the Lord. But I will not be a serpent and bite them. How about you?

O Lord, keep my fangs pulled. Let me never be one who bites another because of my flesh.

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Altars, Bible, Darkness, Evil, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Idols, Modeling, Scripture

IN THE MIDST OF EVIL

MICAH 3:3

“Who eat the flesh of my people, strip off their skin from them, smash their bones, and chop them up as for the pot, and as meat in a cauldron!”

I have experienced evil in my lifetime – pure evil. It is not a comfortable feeling. I remember many years ago, back in 1985, I had the opportunity to visit Liberia on a mission trip with a couple of friends. We went to several villages with the local missionary to do medical missions and share the Gospel. One village we approached had this huge cottonwood tree on the edge of the village, from which were hung all kinds of animal bones. We were told this was the local witchdoctor’s altar. You could just feel the evil all around.

Micah continues the description of those who were leading the people in evil. These people were totally disarmed and helpless. Their flesh, skin and bones were chopped up for the pot, not literally, but figuratively. They were just food for the leaders, people to be exploited and preyed upon. Pure evil.

APPLICATION

I pray you never encounter evil like I experienced or what Micah is describing. I am afraid our world is becoming more evil by the day. The Word of God is scoffed at. The principles taught in the Bible about marriage, life and godly living are ridiculed and considered old-fashioned. The biblical worldview we believers strive to live by is scorned.

How do you survive this? By relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a pledge I recite as part of the Every Man A Warrior (www.everymanawarrior.com) disciple making curriculum. It is called the manhood commitment. It says:

Created by God in His image to be a bearer of destiny in social and spiritual leadership, I will be a man who, abiding in Jesus Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirt –  rejects passivity (the silence of Adam); accepts responsibility to obey God’s will, do God’s work, and love God’s woman; leads courageously through direction, protection and provision based on God’s principles, not my passions; serves humbly giving life to others, not taking life from them; and invests eternally, making disciplemakers.

Ladies, you can adapt that to fit you, as well. But that is how we fight the evil in this world. We abide in Christ and rely on the Holy Spirit. We reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, serve humbly and invest eternally. That is my passion. Try that today in your life and just see what happens.

I shall fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

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