Abiding, Allegiance, Bible, Bondslaves, Demons, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Obedience, Scripture

GIVE IT YOUR ALL 

MICAH 7:16 

“Nations will see and be ashamed of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf.” 

I shall never forget football drills and the coach screaming at us, “I want 110% out of you men. Don’t slack off.” I gave it my all. I played hard. I knew when I was giving it my all and when I was not. The coach could tell, too. I would miss blocking assignments or a tackle.  

Micah is now addressing the people again after God has spoken. Here he is showing us that we will always face opposition. The enemies of Israel gave their all against them but failed. The word “all” means whole or complete. In other words, they were all in. But they found out their might was no match for the might of God.  

APPPLICATION 

Are you giving your all to Him today? I am not asking if you are working non-stop for Jesus without taking any breaths. No, I mean are you all in? Does Jesus have all of you? So many of us think we can just say a prayer and go about our business as if nothing has happened. That is not the case. 

I promise you that the enemies of the cross are all in after us. They are giving it their all to try to bring us down. But their “all” is no match for us if we are all in for Christ. It is His power that will defeat them, not our power. I can make you another promise. Christ is all in for you. 

Look at what He did for you. He died a horrible death on the cross for your salvation. You cannot get much more “all in” than that. His love for you cost Him everything. He gave His life to ransom your soul. He deserves your all. Give it to Him today. 

All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Correction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Love, Obedience, Scripture

THE ROD OF GOD 

MICAH 7:14 

“Shepherd Your people with Your scepter, the flock of Your possession which lives by itself in the woodland, in the midst of a fruitful field. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.” 

I grew up in the days of good old fashioned “whoopings.” My parents believed Proverbs 13:24. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children will be careful to discipline them.” My spankings were never abusive. There is never any excuse for that. I knew my parents were trying to steer me in the right direction. 

This “scepter” mentioned in today’s verse could also be translated as “rod” or “correction.” It was a tool of chastisement. God used his corrective judgment to steer His children to repentance and renewed relationship. And He would direct them back to the first pastures in their land, Bashan and Gilead, the place of their beginnings as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

Has God gotten out His rod for you? Perhaps He is trying to steer you in the right direction. You know, it is much easier to live godly if we respond to that rod quickly. When we rebel and stiffen our necks, we can expect that correction to get a little tougher. God will bring you back home. 

I was a thick-headed child, at times. I knew certain things would get me in trouble and a sure whipping. Fighting with my brother was one of them. But we fought all the time. It was nothing serious, but mom didn’t allow it in the house. Sure enough, dad would come home and tear us up for not listening to our mom. 

I do not like the rod of God on me. I had much rather feel His warm embrace. Hadn’t you? So, as I live my life centered on His Word, I feel that embrace. Awww! That is much better than the rod.  

Lord, I am thankful that You love me enough to use Your rod of correction when I have strayed. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Fruit, Obedience, Redemption, Scripture

THE FRUIT WE BEAR 

MICAH 7:13 

“And the earth will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants, on account of the fruit of their deeds.” 

I am almost sixty-two years old, and I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Fortunately, most of them were small and did no harm. Others, however, have left lasting impressions on me and others. I am forgiven and loved by my Savior, but I know that not all the fruit that I have put forth has been good. 

Micah switches from a positive thought in verse 12 to a rather negative one here in verse 13. The fruit of their deeds, their sins against God will cause their land to be a wasteland, to be desolate. In fact, to this day, because of their rejection of Christ, the land of Israel is spiritually desolate, without hope as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

What fruit are you bearing? Well Carl, I think I am doing pretty well. I think my fruit tastes good. Would you make jam with it? Are the deeds you perform for the sake of Christ done out of love for Him or simply out of “duty”? What is your motivation for service? These are questions we should all ask ourselves daily. We should strive to produce only the fruit that gives the glory to God. 

I am reminded of John 15, the chapter that talks about the vine and the branch and the fruit. Verse 8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” All glory must go to Him, not us. Any applause we receive for a deed well done must be redirected to Him. 

When I travel and speak, preach or teach others, I often am thanked and told how much they appreciate it. I feel almost embarrassed because that is not my motivation. My motive is to give Him glory. I want to point others to Jesus, to whom all praise is due. Amen? As you do for Him, point to Him. 

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

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Accountability, Bible, Devil, Discipline, Evil, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Satan, Scripture

AMBIDEXTROUS 

MICAH 7:3 

“As for evil, both hands do it well. The leader asks for a bribe, also the judge, and the great one speaks the capricious desire of his soul; so they plot it together.” 

I have known a few people in my life who were ambidextrous. That means they could do things with both hands equally well. Switch hitters in baseball have that trait. I have known artists who could draw or paint with either hand. It is a rare ability. I do good to use one hand. 

These individuals Micah is talking about were ambidextrously evil. Their whole focus was on doing what was bad. Micah calls out these leaders and judges who were doing this. One version of this verse translates the last phrase as “they wrap it up.” This evil was done purposely and with planning.  

APPLICATION 

What is (are) your hand(s) doing? Are you a one-handed or a two-handed sinner? Do you sin on purpose? Do you choose to do evil? Those are tough questions, I know. But, just as Micah called out the people, I feel I need to call us out on this. I know so many believers who choose to live in sin and think it is okay. 

Listen to me, God is still a holy and righteous God who demands obedience. He will not force us. That is not His nature. However, He will hold us accountable for our actions. I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Before we are saved, we chase sin. After we are saved, sin chases us. 

I know the old devil is going to throw his best pitches against me every day. He wants to trip me up. He wants to sideline me. I have to know what my hands are doing – good or evil. I strive to choose good every day. Am I perfect? Far from it! But I will use my hands to do good every chance I get. 

Father, forgive me when my hands do evil. Give me the strength to fight against the evil one. 

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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, Accountability, Allegiance, Battles, Bible, Commands, Confrontation, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Rebellion, Scripture

YOU CAN’T OUTFOX GOD

MICAH 6:5

“My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

Be sure your sins will find you out. We have probably all heard that quote (It comes from Numbers 32:23). We try to hide our sins, don’t we? We can hide them for a while from people around us, but we cannot hide them from the all-seeing eye of God. He knows our most intimate secrets, including our sins. We cannot outfox Him.

Balak thought he could do an end-a-round on God. He knew the people of Israel were a mighty force and thought if he could just get a curse on them, it might improve his chances to defeat them. Wrong! That curse bounced right back in his face as a blessing. What was meant to encourage his troops served to put even more fear into them. God is reminding His people of that here in Micah.

APPLICATION

We are so much better off if we will just seek God’s will and do it rather than trying to sneak around. When we finally realize that God’s will for our lives is all about blessing us, we can rest in Him. Now, that does not mean we will not have some hard times. However, even in those there are blessings if we look hard enough.

We want our lives to be problem free. We want that bed of roses. Life is just not that way. Some people have it easier than others. That is true. But that does not diminish the fact that a loving God cares for you and wants what is best for your life. You just have to surrender to His will.

I wish my life was problem free. I still have to fight this disease I have (Amyloidosis). There is no cure for it, only treatments. But I am thankful for the doctors, hospitals and other medical team members who have served me so well. I am thankful for the opportunities it has given me to minister to others going through the same treatments. There is no end-a-round here. I have to trust my Great Physician in the process. How about you?

Father God, help me to trust You even in the hardest times and not try to hide my sins and acts of disobedience. I want to walk in the light with You.

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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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Agreement, Anger, Arguing, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

ARGUING WITH GOD

JONAH 4:9

“But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to the point of death!’”

I have met people who just like to argue. It does not matter what it is about. They just like to argue – the weather, politics, religion, the taste of sweet tea (lol). Some things are worth arguing about. Maybe I should change “argue” to “discuss” here. Either way, some things merit a conversation, but one thing is for sure – you cannot out argue God.

Look at today’s verse again. Jonah is actually arguing with God about his right to be angry. We discussed anger earlier, but here Jonah is once again stating his right to God to be angry about what He has done. Let me ask you a question. Do you think Jonah is going to win this argument? Of course, not. But he has every right to speak up. God is big enough to handle it.

APPLICATION

I agree that we need to learn to submit our wills to His will. There really is not another way to live the Christian life successfully. However, God knows us better than we do. He knows when we question His will what our motive(s) is(are). So, it is okay to “argue” with God, as long as you do not think you are going to win.

We have to keep in mind that His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees our life, past, present and future. He could tell us what is coming if He chose to do so. Most of the time, He does not. That means we have to trust Him, even if we disagree with Him. God’s feelings are not hurt by our questions. He is big enough to handle anything we throw at Him.

I am sure you can think of something right now that you would have chosen to handle a different way. I would have chosen to learn about the eternal things of God without going through my last stem cell transplant. But God chose that to teach me. Did I like it? Did I argue a little with God? Yep, sure did. In the end, I submitted to His will. How about you?

Lord, I do not always agree with You, but I know You are right. Help me trust You from the beginning.

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Accountability, Bible, Christ's Return, Commands, Creation, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

THE FOUR ELEMENTS

JONAH 4:8

“And when the sun came up God designated a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint, and he begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life!’”

Can you name the four basic elements of matter? No, this is not a science test. They are earth, water, air and fire. Now, we all know Who created these elements, don’t we? The Supreme Creator of all creation spoke these into existence thousands of years ago (that’s right, I said thousands, not millions). He controlled them then and does now.

Do you realize God used all four of these, plus a few created things, to speak to Jonah? He used the sea (water) and the fish, the plant (earth), the scorching east wind (air) and the sun (fire). I wonder if God was trying to send Jonah a message about just Who He was. There was nothing that God could not and would not use to accomplish His Will.

APPLICATION

God is sending us messages today through all of these. The Word says that all of creation will moan as the day nears for His Son to return. Man, have we seen the earth moan in the past few years? There has been a dramatic increase in earthquakes, storms, weather extremes, etc. The scientific community explains these away as global warming or some other theory. Did you know there have been 10 earthquakes in the past three days measuring 5.5 or greater?

God is trying to get our attention just as He did Jonah. We read this story about Jonah and easily point fingers and judge. But we are just as guilty. What was God trying to show Jonah? That He was a merciful God who desires that all come to Him. We are just as unwilling to share the good news as Jonah. We may not run to Tarshish and board a ship, but we sit idly by while the earth tumbles into eternity.

Do not wait for the earth, air, fire or water to send you the message. Pick up your copy of God’s Word and go share the good news with a lost and dying world. Tell your neighbors. Tell your waitress at the restaurant. Tell everyone you meet that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, if only they will turn to Him.

I love to tell the story. It will be my theme in glory. To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

GOING EAST

JONAH 4:5

“Then Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade, until he could see what would happen in the city.”

I know people who are directionally challenged. They could not tell you which way was east if their life depended on it. On a recent trip I made to Albania, I got out my trusty phone compass to identify which direction east was so I could watch for the next morning’s sunrise. I had made a lot of turns that day and was a bit confused on the direction. I like that little compass.

In Scripture, going east is used to show men moving away from God. Going east represents the world. Going west represents holiness. Jonah went east (away from God). He had probably waited the forty days of his prophecy and then went out to see what would happen. He still seemed to have hope that God would strike Nineveh for their sins, even though they had repented.

APPLICATION

What direction are you going? East or west? Are you moving away from God or towards Him? Let me tell you something. Going east does not solve anything. We need to always be moving west towards God. Now, I do not mean we need to literally move west. I am speaking symbolically here.

Many times, something bad happens and we withdraw from God. We do not understand His actions or lack of action. For instance, the recent school shooting in Texas has people both crying out to God and blaming God. God did not cause that shooting. Get that out of your head. God has no part of evil. But evil exists in this world. We must cling to God in the presence of evil and trust Him to get us through these kinds of tragedies.

I choose west. I choose to move towards God, no matter the ramifications. I know I can trust Him. I know He knows what is best for me. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust Him. Will you join me on my westward journey?

I will move towards You, Lord. Westward I will go!

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