Advice, Bible, Boasting, Brokenness, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HUMBLE LEADERS

JONAH 3:6

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, removed his robe from himself, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the dust.”

I have been fortunate in my ministry to have worked for some very humble men. Humility is a trait that goes a long way with me. If someone is arrogant and too sure of themselves, I will give them plenty of room. Those traits drag me down. But being led by a humble person makes me want to emulate them. I truly admire that.

The king of Nineveh lowered himself to the same level as his people. He didn’t think himself too good to hear the message which reached his ears. The word for “word” here isn’t just referring to Jonah’s message. It is also referring to the response of the people that was reported to him. He removed his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat in the dirt. That’s humbling yourself.

APPLICATION

Are you humble? If you answered “yes,” you probably aren’t, lol. We have a choice about humility. We can humble ourselves or be humbled. I prefer the former. If I humble myself, someone else may exalt me. But if I exalt myself, I may get humbled. Jesus said the same thing when He referred to coming as a guest to a meal. He said sit at the end of the table and let the host move you up.

The question then arises. How do you show yourself humble? Putting others before yourself is one way. Serving someone less fortunate than you is another. How about keeping your mouth shut in that business meeting even when you know you have the right answer? It’s not easy being humble.

Humility is spoken of all through Scripture. Let me encourage you to do a word study on humility. Do you know what that means? Find a good concordance or go to a good website like Biblehub.com and do a search. Take some time to study those passages that speak on humility. Search your own heart and see how you measure up. We all have room to improve with humility.

O Lord, I want to be humble before You and men. Help me keep my heart broken before You.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Forgiveness, Guilt, Modeling, Scripture

SIN LEAKS

JONAH 1:10

“Then the men became extremely afraid, and they said to him, ‘How could you do this?’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.”

Hanging around with the wrong crowd can get you in trouble. I remember getting in trouble for a lot of things I did. Fair enough. But when I was a freshman in college, I got put on probation for my affiliation with my dorm mates. I was home visiting my parents on the weekend that caused this. But because they could not verify every person who was guilty, our entire dorm hall was put on probation. I was punished for something I didn’t even do.

These sailors were alarmed when they heard what Jonah had done. They were not only afraid. They were also mad. Jonah’s disobedience had put them in trouble. His sin had leaked. Yep, his sin had put them in danger. They weren’t running from God. However, God was using this situation to get their attention as well.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a difficult question. Has your sin leaked? Has it spread onto others? Are others suffering because of your sin? Fathers, do you think you can get away with treating your wives harshly and not affect your children? Wives, do you think you can disrespect your husband without modeling the wrong behavior to your daughters?

I could name a multitude of other sins that we commit that leak on others. Sin has consequences. Unfortunately, our sins often affect those around us, especially our families. We need to stop and confess all those right now. I’ll pause here…do that…right now.

I know I have done things in my past that influenced someone else. For that I am sorry. I have confessed those as sin. I have asked for God’s forgiveness and when possible, the forgiveness of the one I offended. We all need to do that.

O Lord, I am guilty of leaking my sin on others. Forgive me of not be obedient to You.

Standard
Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

Standard
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

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

Standard
Abuse, Anger, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Courage, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

RETRIBUTION

OBADIAH 18

“‘Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,’ for the LORD has spoken.”

When you’ve been wronged, it is only natural to want to get “payback.” Our flesh demands it. We can’t wait to see those who have hurt us hurt themselves. I didn’t say that was right, only that our flesh leans that way. God calls us to a higher standard, a different response.

Esau has finally and completely been dealt with by God. He has made Jacob “a fire” and Joseph “a flame.” They will be rekindled, and life will emerge from death. Esau, on the other hand, will have “no survivor.” And those final words of today’s verse, “for the LORD has spoken,” says it all. Finality! Completion.

APPLICATION

Wait on the Lord and see the splendor of His handiwork. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. But it’s so hard to wait when you are the one suffering. I understand that. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. I read stories of child abuse that angered me. I wanted those people punished for what they had done to an innocent child.

I quickly learned that I could not shoulder that burden. I was in no position to punish them. But I could extend the hand of Jesus to them. That was hard at first. I remember telling my staff that and encouraging them to do the same. It was amazing how much better the children responded to us when they saw us loving their parents.

I don’t which side of the fence you are on today – Jacob or Esau. It really doesn’t matter. Both sides need Jesus. Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him? Do that today. Lay down all your intentions on getting even. It’s not worth it and doesn’t satisfy. Only Jesus does.

I love You, Lord, and I lift You up. I praise You for all You have done and continue to do in my life.

Standard
Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

Standard
Bible, Conceit, Confession, Deceit, Exhortation, Humility, Justice, Modeling, Pride, Sacrifice, Salvation, Scripture

AFTER PRIDE COMES THE FALL

OBADIAH 2

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised.”

We all know that being prideful and boastful isn’t good. In fact, Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction the heart of the man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” I love that verse. When I am tempted to get cocky, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit of that verse. That’s one of the benefits of scripture memorization.

Albert Barnes says this about today’s verse. “God tells Edom what, amid its pride, it was in itself, ‘despicable;’ what it would thereafter be, ‘despised’.” That was Edom’s problem. They were a prideful lot who looked down on their brother’s fall. God could not and would not let that go.

APPLICATION

Do you suffer from pride and arrogance? It’s easy to get that way if we are not careful. We begin to think that what we have is all our doing. We forget what the Lord has done for us. Thinking that way is dangerous. It sets us up for a fall.

Whenever you begin to get full of pride, let the Holy Spirit convict you and draw you back to Jesus’ feet. There is no room for pride there. When our minds are focused on Him, we are reminded of His sacrifice for us. Just think of our lowly estate before the cross.

I am so thankful that all I am is because of Him. I am nothing outside of Christ. He makes me whole. He makes me righteous. He makes me…everything I am. I have no room for pride. I know in whom I have believed.

Father, I praise You for keeping me humble. I know my place is at the foot of the cross, bowing before You.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Compassion, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Following, Modeling, Remembering

A HUT

AMOS 9:11

“On that day I will raise up the fallen shelter of David, and wall up its gaps; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old;”

Growing up in Southwest Georgia was a blessing. Behind my parents’ home was a stretch of woods that went for some distance. The neighborhood boys spent a lot of time in those woods exploring and playing. We even built little huts in the woods of small saplings and vines. They were great places to spend time in during the heat of those Southwest Georgia summer days.

This “shelter” Amos mentions here refers, probably, to the crude huts the Israelites built during the Feast of Tabernacles. They constructed these huts to remind them of their journey through the wilderness and their reliance on God. So, once again, God will build them up for that purpose.

APPLICATION

What reminds you of your reliance on God? Every day I am reminded of that. I suffer from neuropathy in my feet, the result of the chemotherapy I received. Every step I take reminds me of my reliance on Him. I can’t walk without His strength. Most days my feet are just numb and tingling. But some days, there is intense pain.

That pain, though uncomfortable, serves as a reminder of the pain my Savior went through for me. His pain was much more intense. His pain ended in death. It says in Isaiah 61:3 that the pain that brought us peace was upon Him. That is so true. His pain equals my peace.

I am thankful for my neuropathy because it reminds me of the journey I underwent. I have asked God to remove this neuropathy, but for now it remains. As long as I have this reminder, I won’t need to build a hut, lol. What is your reminder of His grace and mercy in your life?

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me each day of all You have done for me.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Apologies, Bible, Consequences, Devout, Discipline, Examples, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Promises, Testimony

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

AMOS 9:8

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will eliminate it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally eliminate the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Are you a good promise keeper? We have all broken promises at some point in our lives. It may have been a small, minor promise, but it was still a promise. I try not to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

Failure was and never will be an option for our God. He had made a promise to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He promised him a land, a son and a nation. Now, as the nation of Israel was deserting Him and facing judgment, God reminds them of that promise. Jacob (also known as Israel) would be remembered and not totally destroyed.

APPLICATION

Let me encourage you today to keep your promises. Maybe you only promised your child an ice cream cone. Go get it. Maybe you promised your spouse a weekend away. Go! Maybe your promise is more serious like your wedding vows. Those must be kept.

Whatever promise you made, keep it. A vow made should be a vow kept. After all, as a believer, you are representing your Savior. How you keep promises reflects on Him. I think if we understood that fully, there would be fewer promises broken.

Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? One of my newest, favorite verses is found in Joshua. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” You can take God’s promises to the bank. They are for sure.

Lord God, I am so thankful Your promises are true and faithful. I rest knowing I can count on You.

Standard