Accountability, Bible, Commands, Following, Love, Obedience, Salvation, Scripture



“Then he said to me, ‘This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the entire land; everyone who steals certainly will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears falsely will be purged away according to the writing on the other side.’”

My dad would not tolerate stealing. Nor would he put up with foul language. My dad wasn’t perfect and didn’t come to Christ until later in life, but he was intent on raising us right. I never had the desire to steal (except for that one piece of candy at the grocery store), but I was prone to cuss and swear. Of course, I knew better but still did it.

Do you wonder why this flying scroll singled out these two sins? The commandment against stealing was on one side of the tablet of the ten commandments and swearing (against God) was on the other. They were the eighth and third commandments, respectively. One had to do with sins against others and the other against God. These were representative of the sins of the people.


It is not hard to see how to apply this to our lives today. What are your sins against others? What are your sins against God? You know them, but have you confessed them to the Lord and asked His forgiveness? I understand that as a child of the Lord and a believer in Jesus as our Savior, we are under grace, not the Law. But we still need to obey His commandments. We are to still strive to be holy.

Leviticus 22:31 tells us, “‘So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD.’” Jesus said in John 14:15, “‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.’” Commandment keeping is still important. Let me repeat – we are under grace, not the Law. However, we are expected to follow God’s commands.

You may not steal or swear, but I am willing to bet that you have committed sins against others and God. Take a moment right now and search your heart. Ask the Lord to reveal those transgressions to you and then confess them as sin. Confession is saying the same thing about your sin that God says. Agree with Him. He will forgive. Follow Him.

Oh Father, keep me from transgressing against You and my neighbor. I want to please You.

Awake, Bible, Choices, Distractions, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Seeing



“Then the angel who had been speaking with me returned and woke me, like a person who is awakened from his sleep.” 

I wake up most mornings before my alarm goes off. I don’t know how to explain it except my body has a built in alarm. I think about the time I need to get up and most days I wake up just before then. I like that. I like to get up early and spend time with the Lord before it gets crazy busy.

Zechariah didn’t need an alarm clock either. He had an angel to wake him up. He was not startled, or so it seems, because this was the same angel who had been talking to him. I can just picture that, can’t you? Wake up, sleepy head. I am not finished talking. Zechariah rubs the sleep out of his eyes and, as we will see tomorrow, the angel starts right in delivering another message to him for the people.


Too many of us walk around in a slumber. We are believers, but we aren’t aware of what is going on around us. It almost appears our eyes are shut to the spiritual realm in which we live. I love Psalm 3:5. “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.” The Lord can awake you to a new day, a new vision.

I am not trying to get strange here. I just know that the Lord works that way. He will awaken us to new things. He will awaken us to His vision for the world. He will awaken us to a new calling. Oh, wait! I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?

You see, most Christians are fine with talking about Jesus. But don’t ask them to shift their way of seeing the world. Don’t ask them to gear up for warfare against the enemy. Since the Lord woke me up, I see the world in a whole new way – His way.

Wake me, Lord, each day to new opportunities to serve You.

Admonished, Advice, Angels, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Obedience, Scripture



“And the angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying,”

This time of the year here in the U.S. there are a lot of graduation ceremonies. At most high school and college graduations there will be a speaker, an invited guest. This person may be an alum, a celebrity, a politician or an educator. The purpose of this person’s speech is to admonish, to exhort, to challenge and to remind the students of their responsibilities that lie ahead. I have a granddaughter graduating this year from high school. I am sure she will hear such a speech.

You may question why I would do a devotional on such an insignificant verse. Really? Is any verse insignificant if it is inspired by God? I don’t think so. Look at the verse. The “angel of the Lord” is considered by many to be Jesus Christ who appears throughout the Old Testament. He is reminding Joshua of what is about to come. In the next four verses we will see what He says. This admonishment wasn’t cruel or harsh. It was just a firm reminder.


I usually see “admonishments” in a negative way. Maybe that’s because I have actually received a lot of those. But an admonishment is not meant to be negative if it comes from the Lord. Remember, His desire is to always draw you to Him. He is not trying to scare you away. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”

I don’t want to react to God’s voice like a feral cat that runs away if you try to approach. I want to be like the family dog that runs to the door to greet you when they hear your car pull into the driveway. They can’t wait to see you. That’s exactly how I want to react when God admonishes me. He may just want to remind me of my purpose or to tell me He loves me.

When God speaks to you, how do you react? Well, Carl, I haven’t heard God speak to me? Oh, you are missing out. Get alone with Him and ask Him to talk to you. You’ve got to listen, though. You’ve got to get quiet and wait. You have to tune your ear to His voice. Then when He does speak you can recognize it. And then hang on. His words of admonishment will be welcomed then.

Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus. Speak that my soul may hear.

Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Conviction, Discipline, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Perseverance, Scripture



“On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, that is, the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows:” 

For many years I oversaw the Quality Assurance programs for the children’s homes ministries where I served. You have to be kind of accurate when you do that. Many times funding sources depended on the accuracy of my data. I enjoyed that work and learned little secrets to keeping accurate data. Those who worked with me knew I expected them to work with excellence. That’s what the Lord expects from us.

So, when I read today’s verse in Zechariah, I thought to myself that God wanted Zechariah to make sure he was accurate in putting down this information. When you read the verse, you may wonder how this applies to you. Well, I go back to our basic premise about Scripture – every word is inspired by God. Therefore, it was important to Him that the twenty-fourth day of Shebat in Darius’ second year be noted. Don’t miss that.


Application time! How accurate are you? What do you let slide in your walk with Christ? I am not saying you need to be legalistic and do things out of rote habit. No! What I am saying is you need to do everything you do with excellence. Immediately, I think of Colossians 3:23-24. “23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

Did you catch that? It is the Lord Christ whom you serve! You do not represent just your family, your employer or your church. You represent Jesus. I promise if you are working to please Him, everything else will be covered. If there are things you are doing to “cut corners,” examine them. Don’t do anything that would reflect bad on our Lord.

My dad always taught me to do things right the first time. I watched him meticulously hang wallpaper and wall murals. He would painstakingly smooth out every wrinkle and make sure the pattern was matched perfectly. I want to do the same with my life. I want my life to match up perfectly with Jesus. I want to show others how to live their lives surrendered to Him. And you?

Thank You, Lord, for showing me how to walk perfectly on this earth. Help me model Your lifestyle to others.

Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Following, Life, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture



“‘Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?’” 

I have heard it said many times, “There are two certainties in life – death and taxes.” While that may be true, no one likes to dwell on either. Here in the U.S., it is tax season. Everyone is expected to file their federal income taxes by April 15. I’ve already done mine and was fortunate to get a little refund. However, it will all happen again next year. At least death is a one-time deal, right? I am not worried about that because I know where I am going.

Today’s verse is kind of somber. God is reminding the people that everyone dies. Their fathers had died. Their prophets had died. There is no escaping that. Why does God do that? What was He trying to say? He was warning them that those in the past who had resisted His commands had passed away. Resisting God does you no good. Only He is eternal.


Is there someone to whom you are hanging on to? You think everything will be fine as long as they are around. Warning – they won’t always be here. We can’t place our trust in anyone here on earth. We are all just passing through this earth. You may have been fortunate enough to have godly parents who taught you right. They may still be alive. Enjoy them. But our parent’s faith won’t do a thing for us as far as getting into heaven. That only comes from our own faith in Christ.

The good news is our parents’ lack of faith isn’t counted against us either. Deuteronomy 24:16 says, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” We also know Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”

You must come to God through Jesus. Just because you grew up in a Christian home, that does not make you a Christian, anymore than being born in a garage makes you a car. Right? So, come to Jesus. Let Him give you the plan He has for your life. Only He can be trusted to do that.

O Father, I am so thankful I am resting in Your hands and not my own.

Accountability, Bible, Boundaries, Commands, Direction, Following, Hearing, Obedience, Scripture



“‘Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, “This is what the LORD of armies says: ‘Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’” But they did not listen or pay attention to Me,’ declares the LORD. “

I can’t recall the number of times my parents told me to not do something. I heard them, but I did not listen. You see, I knew better than to do the things I was doing. I knew doing them would get me in trouble if I was caught. I got to be pretty sneaky. My mom and dad went to heaven not knowing about some of them. Hmmm, now that they are up there, do they know? Lol

The Israelite’s fathers did not listen or pay attention to the Lord’s commands. They heard them over and over again. They knew the Law. They knew the commandments. However, they chose to live as if they did not care. The Hebrew word for “pay attention” means to prick up the ears. Just picture a dog laying down and resting. When you call its name, what does it do first? It pricks up its ears. You see, the Israelites had not pricked up their ears to listen to the Lord.


What is the Lord telling us in this verse? Prick up your ears! Listen! Do what I say! Sounds easy enough, so why don’t we do it? Because we are just as stubborn as those Israelites who did not listen and pay attention. We want to do what we want, not what the Lord has instructed us to do.

Do you know what happened nine times out of ten when I did not follow my parents’ rules? I got in trouble. Yep, I usually was disciplined. Same is true when I don’t follow God’s rules. I find myself in trouble. God will discipline those whom He loves. Aren’t you glad? Probably not, if you are honest. But it is for our good. We know that, right?

Psalm 103:17-18 paints a beautiful picture of this. “17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting for those who fear Him, and His justice to the children’s children, 18 to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts, so as to do them.” I can’t say it any better than that.

O Lord, I know Your commands are for my good. Lead me in the path that is true and right.

Bible, Blessing, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Offering, Sacrifice, Scripture



“‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or touches cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?’” And the priests answered, ‘No.’”

Have you ever wondered what makes something holy? We have the Holy Bible (that one is understandable). We have holy water (which is used by some). We even have holy smoke, lol. A question is poised by the Lord to the priests about how things become holy. This may seem like a foreign concept for us today. We’ll dig into that a little further in a minute.

In today’s verse the priests are asked if a certain action would cause something to be holy. Can meat, that has been blessed by the priests, transfer holiness from it to another object if it touches it? You can read about this transfer of holiness in Exodus 29:37 and Leviticus 6:27, 29; 7:6. It was the meat given to the priests as part of their provisions. This meat was a portion of the meat given by the people for sacrifice. This meat belonged to the Lord.


Ahh! So, there it is! That is what makes something holy. We have the answer to the question. Holiness is only transferrable by the Lord. He makes something or someone holy. There is nothing we can do on purpose or accidentally that can confer holiness. Our holiness cannot be passed on. Each person must become holy on their own through the blood of Jesus.

You see that meat that was holy was only holy because it was part of the offering to God, a blood sacrifice. We are made holy through the blood of the Lamb. We are made more like Him (more holy) by surrendering more and more of ourselves on that altar of sacrifice. As we die to our flesh each day, the Lord allows us to experience more and more of His holiness.

Holiness is not something to be grabbed and obtained through a touch. Holiness comes through righteousness given to us by Jesus. Do you long to live holy? Do you want to be known as someone who lives holy? Then lay your life on that altar. Die to your will and live according to His will. Holiness will be poured upon you through His Spirit.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty…Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee, Perfect in power, in love and purity

Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Obedience, Rules, Scripture



“The LORD of armies says this: ‘Now ask the priests for a ruling:’”

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a football fan, especially Georgia Bulldog football. But the one thing I don’t like about the game now are all the pauses in play for the official review of a play. In this scenario, the head umpire goes to the sideline to watch an instant replay of the play in question. This can take a few minutes to several minutes. All the while, the players are cooling down on the field and perhaps losing their momentum at that point in the game. But an official ruling is necessary before the game can continue.

It’s interesting to me that here in verse 11 of Haggai 2, we see God telling Haggai to ask the priests for a ruling. We will see that over the next couple of days. But why does God need the priests to make a ruling. He is not asking them for advice. No! He is just wanting them to take a closer look at His law, not their laws. Just like the head umpire, they need to look very close at what they are doing, at their rulings over people. God is always precise and perfect in His rulings. They weren’t.


What do you need to take a closer look at? James tells us in James 1:25, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.” “To look intently” means to stoop down and look, to really look. The same word is used in John when John and Peter went to the tomb after the resurrection of Jesus. It says John stooped and looked.

Take a few minutes today and “stoop and look” at how you are following Jesus. If you find yourself not following Him at all, stop whatever you are doing and come to Him. If for salvation, make today the day your surrender to Him. If for correction, let Jesus guide you back as you look intently at your walk.

We are all at different places in our walk with Jesus. But we all need to look intently and make a ruling about our journey. Make sure you are making the right ones. Only His Word can show you that. Take the time today. I promise it will be time worth taking.

I trust Your rulings in my life, O God. You are always right and true.

Accountability, Belief, Bible, Born, Decisions, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Salvation, Scripture



“on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king.”

You are probably saying, Carl, what in the world can you get out of this verse? Let me start by saying that there are a couple of dates that are important to me. My birthdate is important – November 18. My wedding date – December 7. My children’s birthdates – June 11 and December 12. And most importantly, my spiritual birthdate – July 31, 1977. I remember those dates. I have them marked on my calendar.

For some reason, the Lord inspired Haggai to mark down this date of the 24th day of the 6th month. Why? I think he wanted us to realize something. If you look back at Haggai 1:1, you will see Haggai delivered God’s message on the first day of the sixth month. Now we are on the 24th day. Why did it take them 23 days to obey God’s command? Hmmm? Over three weeks had elapsed. But when they did obey, Haggai marked it down. Finally! Let’s celebrate this day.


Okay, before you judge the Israelites for waiting three weeks to obey, let me ask you something. How long have you been waiting to obey something the Lord has clearly told you to do? We all do that. We hear the Lord speak through His Word or in our prayer time or in a message we hear at church. We know God is speaking, and we still put off obeying. Yes, we have all done that. The Israelites mulled this decision over in their minds for three weeks.

Let me ask you another question. What dates in your life have you marked as milestones? What dates impacted your life? They might be dates that I mentioned earlier – birthdates, marriage dates, maybe even the date someone died. Whatever the dates you have down, ask the Lord how you should remember them. Ask the Lord to show you the importance in His eyes. He sees time differently than we do.

It is so important to remember that. God sees the past, present and future all at once. Time has no meaning to Him. He is eternal, and He sees things eternally. What we think is an important date may mean nothing eternally. There is one date that is still unknown but it the most important date – the date of His Son’s return. That date is only known to the Father. One day that date will occur. Are you ready for it?

This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Consequences, Dependence, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Thanksgiving



“‘Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.’”

It’s that time of year again in the U.S. – tax time. Every year about this time, people are preparing to file their federal income tax returns. Most people have tax withheld from their salary during the year to hopefully not have to pay any additional tax. A little at a time is not so painful, but when you have to write that big check on a quarterly basis or at the end of the year, that “withholding” hurts.

The people of Israel were experiencing a different kind of withholding. There was no dew or rain which meant there was no produce, no harvest. God was withholding this from them because of their rebellion and disobedience. It was all to get their attention, to get them to repent and return to Him. When God withholds anything from us, it is for a reason. He always has a purpose behind His actions.


Have you felt like God was withholding something from you? Many of us have felt that way. Maybe you think He is withholding answered prayers. Maybe you have asked for physical healing, but it has not come. Maybe you have prayed for a husband or a wife, but you are still single. Stop right there. Ask the Lord why He is withholding that thing from you. I guarantee He has a reason.

You see, if we are living according to His will, God does not withhold His blessings to punish us. Psalm 40:11 tells us, “You, LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your mercy and Your truth will continually watch over me.” God is not in the withholding business (unlike the U.S. Treasury). God wants to give to us.

I have to admit there have been times when I was disappointed that God withheld something from me. But looking back, I realized He knew exactly what I needed. I saw it as a bad thing, but He knew what was best for me. Look back at your own life and see how He has done the same for you.

Lord, Your way is always the best way. Thank You for withholding what is not good for me.