Bible, Despair, Joy, Modeling, Peace, Praise, Scripture, Singing

GLOOM, DESPAIR AND AGONY

ZEPHANIAH 1:15

“That day is a day of anger, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,”

Back in the 1970’s a comedy show hit the airwaves of the U.S. entitled “Hee Haw.” One of the songs that was sung regularly on the show was about gloom and despair. The lyrics were:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me

These words may not all fit today’s verse, but they sure come close to how someone who was facing the day of the Lord and His judgment would feel. Of course, it wasn’t about having bad luck. It was all about bad choices – specifically one – rejecting Jehovah in favor of idolatry and rebellion. That choice would certainly bring gloom, despair and agony.

APPLICATION

We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior have no reason to worry about gloom, despair or agony. Our hope is in Him. Certainly, none of those words describe our Lord. He is joy, light and radiance. He brings peace and comfort. He exudes the glory of God.

So, why do so many Christians walk around singing that old Hee Haw song? They almost act like Eeyore, the donkey from Winnie the Pooh. Every time you see them all you hear about is how bad things are. They are children of the King, but they act like a lowly peasant who has been downtrodden and forgotten.

I choose to walk in victory. I choose to sing a different song. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. He has put a new song in my heart. Will you sing with me? Will you praise His holy name? Let the world know about the joy you have because you have chosen to follow Jesus. They need to hear it and you need to proclaim it.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, Peace, Rest, Scripture

WAIT QUIETLY

HABAKKUK 3:16

“I heard, and my inner parts trembled; at the sound, my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble; because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will attack us.”

I have mentioned before that I have worked with children most of my ministry. Only in the last few years has my focus turned to discipling men (that’s a story for another day). I don’t know how many times I have dealt with children who would not get quiet at bedtime. They just couldn’t rest. You may be that way.

As Habakkuk closes his message to the people, he now reflects on the chastisement of the nation, the terror of their enemies and finally his position in this. He says, “I must wait quietly.” The Hebrew word here means to rest, to get quiet, to withdraw, to get comfort. In other words, in the midst of the trial, Habakkuk felt a peace.

APPLICATION

Rest! It’s not easy sometimes. My wife gets mad at me because I can go to sleep so quickly. I tell her it’s a gift, lol. But I haven’t always been that way. There have been many a night when I could not shut my brain off. I couldn’t rest. I was anxious about things. Stress can do that to you. So can your physical health.

Are you at rest? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, wrote a book about this. It’s entitled “The Rest of Grace.” You can find it on Amazon at The Rest of Grace by Wayne Barber (1998-07-04): Amazon.com: Books. His basic message in the book is for us to rely on the strength and power of God and not ourselves. We have to rest in the grace God has given us.

As I have gotten older, I have learned to do that more. I still struggle from time to time when I pick up those old habits. But for the most part I have learned to rest in Him. There is a peace that is so comforting when I do that. Will you join me in His rest?

Lord, I am thankful for the rest You give me when I place my trust in You alone.

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Bible, Contentment, Peace, Rest, Satisfaction, Scripture

NEVER SATISFIED

HABAKKUK 2:5

“’Furthermore, wine betrays an arrogant man, so that he does not achieve his objective. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all the nations and collects to himself all the peoples.’”

Some things are never satisfied. Football fans are not satisfied that their team won the championship. They want them to win it every year, and if they don’t, they want to get rid of the coach. Church members want the preacher to preach the perfect sermon every week. If he struggles one week, they start questioning his abilities.

God is still speaking here in verse 5. And He is telling Habakkuk that the wicked man is never satisfied. There is another story I was reminded of when I read this today. God gave the Hebrew children in the wilderness manna from heaven. But they grumbled against it. They tired of God’s miraculous provision and wanted something more.

APPLICATION

Don’t point fingers! We all do the same thing. God meets our needs, but we ask for more. God does a miracle in our life through a healing of us or someone else, and once again we ask for another. Satisfaction in Christ means we are satisfied completely when we receive our salvation. All other things are just the cherry on top of the ice cream. Nice but not necessary.

Paul says is well in Philippians 4:12. “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

That should be our goal each and every day – to be content, to be satisfied. Unlike the pagan described in today’s verse, we should not always hunger for more. True contentment in Christ is sweet. There is no pressure, no worries, no strife – just rest. Don’t you want to rest in Him today?

I am satisfied, I am satisfied, I am satisfied with Jesus. But the question comes to me, as I think of Calvary, Is my Master satisfied with me?

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, God's Will, Harmony, Peace, Scripture

HE IS OUR PEACE

MICAH 5:5

“This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of people.”

I find peace in the outdoors. When I am fishing (whether I am catching anything or not), I am at peace. When I am sitting in a deer stand or ground blind, I am at peace. I find peace in a quiet morning reading God’s Word or a book that can edify my walk with Him.

Micah declares the Messiah will be their peace. He was and still is. “The Assyrian” here represents all the nations that had and would come against the people. They are no match for their Redeemer. The “seven” and “eight” here are interesting. Of course, seven means wholeness and completeness. When coupled with eight, they mean a countless multitude. What a promise.

APPLICATION

In Isaiah 9:6, Christ is called the Prince of Peace. Paul, in Ephesians 2:14, say, “For He Himself is our peace,…” All through both the Old and New Testaments, we see peace. I have said before in my blogs, that peace cannot really be discovered until you are at peace with God. Are you?

Once your peace with God is secured through the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, that peace begins to spread. You become a more peaceful person, thus making your other relationships more at peace. It may take some time for that to become your lifestyle, but you learn to rest in Him.

Peaceful may not be the first word used to describe me, but I am surely at peace. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to trust Him with those decisions that are facing me each day. Big ones and small ones, it does not matter. Every decision I make is run by Him, and I allow His peace to be the barometer. If I do not have His peace about a decision, that decision is either no or not now. I wait. Are you at peace today?

Peace like a river, there’ll be peace like a river, peace like a river floods my soul

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Courage, Fear, God's Will, Hiding, Peace, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Storms

CRYING TO THE WRONG GOD

JONAH 1:5

“Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they hurled the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the stern of the ship, had lain down, and fallen sound asleep.”

So many times, we get in a mess and try to figure it out all on our own. Or we enlist the help of others who make things worse. I remember one time I was trying fix something on one of our cars. I struggled for hours to put this part on, but it just would not go on for me. I asked my neighbor for help the next morning. You know what happened? It went on for him on the first try. He had the expertise I didn’t.

These sailors are crying out their gods for help. The problem with that is those gods did not exist. They had no power to calm the storm. This was a God storm. This was one created by Him. Only He could calm it and only when it was time. It wasn’t time yet.

APPLICATION

Who are you crying out to right now? If it is anything or anyone but God, you are wasting your breathe. Why do you think you can’t find the answers anywhere else? Is it pride? Or just plain stubbornness? I know you probably think I am being a bit harsh. I guess I am. I don’t want to offend you, but I do want to move you to the right place.

Jonah was sleeping during this storm not because he was at peace. He was simply ignoring it. He was hiding from God in the stern of the ship, oblivious to what He was doing to get his attention. We do the same thing. We withdraw and hide, pretending the problem will just go away. It won’t.

Thanks be to God that He does not quit. He does not let up. If that storm had calmed down at the cries of those sailors to their gods, they would have thought their gods did it. God was teaching those sailors a lesson as much as He was Jonah. Are you learning anything in your storm?

I hate the storms, Lord, but I do love the peace that comes afterwards. I will trust You through the storm.

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Abiding, Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Peace, Relationships, Scripture

THE WRONG SIDE

HOSEA 13:9 

“It is to your own destruction, Israel, that you are against Me, against your help.” 

There have been times in my life when I have chosen the wrong side of a fight. I became emotionally involved about something and didn’t think things through. The end result wasn’t good. I lost. It doesn’t matter what the issue was. The problem was I had not prayed about it first. I thought it was a matter that I needed to decide without consulting my Savior. I was wrong. 

Israel had chosen the wrong side. They had sided against God. They had pursued the other gods. They had decided to follow the pagan gods of the nations around them, the very nations God had told them to wipe out when they came into the Promised Land. Even after seeing all that God had done for their nation, they chose the wrong side. Now, their destruction was upon them. 

APPLICATION 

Whose side are you on? I pray you are on the Lord’s side. He has so much to offer. It may appear that siding with the Lord limits you. You may think walking with Him means you can’t “have fun” anymore. That is so far from the truth. Living for Jesus is the most fun you could have. He fills our lives with joy and peace. He surrounds us with a family that loves us and wants to see us succeed. What more could you want? 

I just returned from my brother’s funeral. As I sat in the service and listened to the speakers share about my brother, I was amazed. My brother and I lived about six hours apart. I knew he was involved in his church, but I had no idea just how much he served. I was blown away at their accolades of my brother. My brother chose the right side. He had chosen to serve Jesus. He is enjoying the victory now. 

It’s never too late to join the winning side. The other side, the devil’s side, will never win. His side is doomed for defeat. And the simple truth is if you are not on the Lord’s side, you are on the devil’s side. Join the right side today. Come to Jesus. Repent of your sins. Ask Him to come and live inside of you through His Holy Spirit. Experience the joy and peace He has to offer.  

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. 

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TENDER HANDS

HOSEA 11:11

“They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.”

I can remember as a little boy finding baby birds that had fallen out of their nest. Some didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were so defenseless. Usually, the mama would be flitting around trying to protect her little ones. I would pick them up so tenderly and, if I could, put them back in their nest. If the nest was too high in the tree, we would try to raise them in a box.

I had this picture in my mind when I read this verse today. God tenderly picked up Israel from Egypt and Assyria and placed them in their land again. They were shaken from their exile. They were dazed and confused, but God reached down with His tender hands and picked them up and loved them.

APPLICATION

Are you dazed and confused? Have you fallen out your nest? God’s tender hands are waiting to pick you up. You need to call out to Him. He doesn’t want to see you on the ground vulnerable to attack. He wants to protect you. But our tender God will not force His love on you. He will not come in uninvited.

Oh, but when you do call out, He is right there. And when you feel His tender hands (and believe me, you can), you just relax and realize that He has you. He will never let you go. He will carry you to your home. He will place you in a place of safety created by Him just for you. Do you want to experience that today?

I know I need His tender hands in my life daily. I love the feel of His hands on my life. I love it because I trust Him. His hands will never crush me. He will not squeeze me into submission. Don’t you love that? I do. Call out to Him today and feel His touch. You won’t ever forget it.

Lord, thank You for Your tender touch. Thank You for picking me up and taking me home.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Inspirational, Peace, Protection, Scripture

PEACE ALL AROUND

HOSEA 2:18

“On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is totally out of control? I mean, it is total chaos! You get one fire put out and another one springs up. You cannot get one moment of rest because of all the stuff you are having to deal with. Then…peace. The chaos ends. You can breathe. Isn’t that an awesome feeling?

The Lord is telling Israel that in today’s verse. Everything is going to calm down. Even the animals, birds and crawling things are going to cooperate. No more war. They can finally feel safe. Those must have been welcomed words from Hosea.

APPLICATION

Are you fighting a battle right now that seems impossible? Does it seem hopeless? Listen, brother and sister, there is hope. But you must come to Him. He can calm all the storms in your life. There aren’t any problems too big for Him. I’ve said it before, everything over our heads is under His feet. Never forget that.

Turn to Him now and say, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I need help. Will you help me through this storm I’m in?” What do you think He is going to say to that? He will come to you. Now, you may not like the way He works in that situation, but if you will trust Him, He will see you through.

Sometimes, peace comes only by navigating through a storm. Let Jesus do that for you. He knows where all the safe ports are. He wants to give you rest. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life. I’ve had enough storms lately, lol. I am ready for some still waters.

Lord, I give you the helm. Guide me into the still waters of Your peace.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confrontation, Enemies, Exhortation, Modeling, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

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A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT

2 JOHN 3

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Don’t you love getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas? I  can remember going through the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog when I was little and circling all the things I wanted for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t get all those things, but my parents always managed to get me at least one of those things on my list. I can still remember some of those toys. Where they are now, no one knows. Lol

It just seems fitting that on this day, Christmas Eve, as we prepare for Christmas that we land on this verse in 2 John. I mean what else could you hope for? Grace, mercy and peace are given to us from the Father and the Son. And they give it in truth and love. I can just see the package all wrapped with their names on it as the senders. Merry Christmas from God.

APPLICATION

How long is your child’s Christmas list? Some kid’s list seems to be a mile long. Others ask for just one thing. You may be able to get them everything they want, or you may struggle to by just one. Don’t let the present buying get you down or break you. Remember that Christmas is not about buying stuff and giving presents. Your kids need to understand that.

What would happen if you told your children all they were getting for Christmas is grace, mercy and peace? I bet they would be confused and probably throw a fit. Am I right? But if their sole focus is on getting presents, you need to refocus them on what really matters. There is nothing more precious than those three gifts.

Would you be happy with those gifts from the Father and Son? Well, their yours. You just have to claim them. Those three things will give you all you need to walk with Christ in victory. In every situation you face you can apply those three things. Is that true for other gifts you might receive? Hardly. Enjoy your gifts.

Father, I am so thankful for the grace, mercy and peace You have given me. The only gift I can give You is my life. It’s Yours.

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