Accountability, Bible, Boundaries, Devil, Enemies, Evil, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Praise, Scripture

VILE

NAHUM 1:14 

“The LORD has issued a command concerning you: ‘Your name will no longer be perpetuated. I will eliminate the carved image and the cast metal image from the house of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are contemptible.’” 

Psalm 101.3 says “I will not look on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do. I will have no part in it.” That should be our attitude towards anything that is vile. But what does that mean? It’s the last word used in today’s verse – contemptible. It means to be cursed or despised. If it is not godly, have no part in it. 

Nahum tells the Assyrians that their time was up. The Lord is going to wipe them away like crumbs from a table. “Your name will no longer be perpetuated…I will prepare your grave.” Those are pretty harsh words. God meant business. He had used them as His battering ram against Israel to judge them, but they had taken it too far. 

APPLICATION 

Today we are bombarded with the vile. All around us are worldly, ungodly things that try to lure us into a lifestyle that is abhorrent to God. Movies, television and commercials all attempt to point us toward a lifestyle that is anything but embracing a Christian viewpoint. 

So, what do we do? We cannot live outside this world – at least not yet. While we are here, we must insulate ourselves with the Word of God. Only His Word can give us the protection we need against the evil one. His flaming arrows are always trying to find their mark against us. 

I am thankful that God has given me the desire to memorize and meditate on His Word. I know my quiver is always full of His Word to defend myself. The Spirit within me is quick to point out those things that offend it. Rely on Him to guard your heart and mind in your daily battles. 

I dedicate my life to honoring You, O Father. You are worthy of my praise and allegiance. 

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Battles, Bible, Freedom, Praise, Scripture, Sin, Surrender, Testimony

SHACKLES

NAHUM 1:13

“‘So now, I will break his yoke from upon you, and I will tear your shackles to pieces.’”

The first thing that I thought of when I read this verse was the song by Mary Mary called “Shackles.” The chorus says,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

Nahum is telling the Israelites that God is breaking their shackles of captivity put on them by the Assyrians (Nineveh). He is setting them free. I bet they felt just like Mary Mary. They just wanted to praise Him. Their shackles were real, though. They felt the weight of the chains. They knew how it felt when they fell off.

APPLICATION

What has you shackled right now? It could be a sin that you have not been able to shake off. You pray and pray but return to the cesspool of sin. That stronghold has you shackled with seemingly no escape. You may not have real chains, but it sure feels like it at times.

I have good news for you. God is still in the shackle breaking business. Lift your hands to Him in prayer, shackles and all, and ask Him to break them. Lay out your feet, shackles and all, and watch them fall off as you yield to Him and give Him everything. Until you do that, those shackles will continue to bind you.

Walking without shackles is a lot better than walking with them. You lose that “shackle shuffle” that is so obvious. When people see you walking free, they will ask what happened. That is when you can tell them you story. You can join with Mary Mary in singing,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

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

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Bible, Favor, God's Will, Goodness, Praise, Promises, Relationships, Reward, Salvation, Scripture, Truth

TRUTH AND FAVOR 

MICAH 7:20 

“You will give truth to Jacob and favor to Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from the days of old.” 

I like receiving gifts. Don’t you? I mean, come on, who doesn’t? But I really like receiving gifts that include things I need. I am at the age now that I really do not want many things. So, I am hard to buy for. When my family gets me a gift, it is usually something I have specifically told them I could use. 

Look at these two gifts that God gives Jacob and Abraham. The Hebrew word for “truth” can mean steadfastness, faithfulness and truth. The word contains so much more than what we consider truth. Then He gives favor. That Hebrew word is key to God’s covenant relationship with Abraham and the whole nation of Israel. It can also be translated as loving-kindness. 

APPLICATION

Oh, to have God’s truth and favor. Wait a second! I do! When we come to Christ, we receive both of these to their fullest extent. God’s truth is found for us in His word. God’s favor is celebrated through our covenant relationship with Him through Jesus. We receive the same gifts as Jacob and Abraham. 

Now, listen carefully. Both of these gifts are given for a purpose. God does not give us gifts to hoard and keep to ourselves. Oh no. These gifts are given to share. We share God’s truth with people everywhere. We introduce others to the covenant relationship we have in Christ. 

I am not worthy of these gifts from God. Neither are you. But God gives liberally to His children. The very moment you ask Christ into your heart, these gifts arrive. Hallelujah! Who can help but praise Him for these beautiful gifts. 

Thank You, Father, for giving me truth and favor, just like Jacob and Abraham. 

(This is my last blog on Micah. I will start the book of Nahum tomorrow.)  

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VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

JONAH 2:9

“‘But I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’”

I love Thanksgiving. This U.S. holiday in November each year celebrates the Pilgrims’ settlement in the New World. They lifted their voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for sustaining them during their first year. It was a tough year, with many lost lives and food shortages. Coming out of that season, they were indeed grateful.

Jonah (still in the belly of the fish) gives thanksgiving to the Lord. He recognized his “salvation is from the LORD.” He did not know, at this time, whether he would escape his fish prison or not. Regardless, he was giving praise. And God heard it.

APPLICATION

What are you thankful for today? Family? Health? I thank God every day for six things. I thank Him for family, friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. I don’t just say those flippantly. I truly am thankful for each of those.

When you have a grateful heart, I believe you are more at peace with the world. You see things differently. You get a more spiritual vision of things. Thankfulness is expressed in our worship of our Lord, and that can be done anywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are in church on Sunday.

I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me and my family. But I am also thankful for the trials God has allowed us to go through. I may not be in the belly of a fish, but I have probably felt just as low as Jonah. Through those times, just like Jonah, God drew me to Himself.

Thank You, Lord, for holding me close, even when I am pushing You away.

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WAVES

JONAH 2:3

“‘For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current flowed around me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.’”

My mom loved the beach. In fact, she convinced my dad, who was no fan of beach life, to buy a small place on the Gulf of Mexico. My mom loved to “jump the waves.” She would not get her hair wet or go in too deep. But she loved to walk in the water and feel the waves break against her body.

Jonah felt the waves and breakers as they passed over him. He seems to quote from Psalm 42:7. “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” There is no escape. Only God’s mercy is sparing his life. Jonah is calling on God as he recognizes His power over him.

APPLICATION

Have you tried to “jump the waves” lately? You may get lucky to begin with, but eventually you tire and the waves get you. You cannot keep up with the current that is pushing against you. You need a rescuer, someone who is strong and powerful. You cannot rescue yourself.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate lifeguard. He is always looking out for our safety. He flies the red flags when He knows there is danger around you. He flies the green flags when it is safe to swim. He has the ability to plunge into the oceans of despair that may entangle you and set you free.

I have known a lot of people who worked as lifeguards. They all had to know how to rescue someone if they were drowning. That might have involved using a hook to pull someone to the side of a pool or throwing a life saving device to someone in the lake or ocean. Jesus has all the tools necessary to rescue us. Has He rescued you?

Father, I am so thankful Jesus tossed me a ring of safety. I am now safe in His arms.

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NOW I BELIEVE

JONAH 1:16

“Then the men became extremely afraid of the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Sometimes seeing is believing. For instance, try to explain to someone who has never seen the ocean what it is. It’s more than a large body of water. It has its own ecosystem with fish and clams and shrimp. It has waves (they may ask what a wave is) that break on the shore. Explain that, lol.

These sailors were now seeing the power of God in the stillness of the sea. They saw His power in the storm, but this stillness was supernatural. The storm stopped when they threw Jonah overboard. His words had come true. They worshipped Jehovah God right there on the deck of the ship and probably offered a sacrifice as they made those vows. They now belonged to Him.

APPLICATION

Many times, we never see the result of our witness. We plant seeds and leave, only to have someone else come along and water and perhaps reap the harvest. Jonah never saw the change in the sailors’ lives. He was swimming for his life. Hmmm, that applies to us today.

In the midst of our trials, we are so often so busy trying to survive that we forget others are watching us. They are observing how we handle this trial. Does our speech match our deeds? Is our walk matching our talk?

Don’t forget that. People are watching to see if your words become true. I am not saying you are a prophet, lol. I am saying that you need to speak truth at all times. Then you are to make sure you are walking in that truth. The people who are watching you are looking for glimpses of Jesus, whom you proclaim. Can they see Him?

O God, my Savior, You may throw me in a raging sea only for the benefit of someone else so they can see Your power. Use me Lord.

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WORSHIPPER OF GOD

OBADIAH 1

“The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Lord GOD says concerning Edom—’We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise, and let’s go up against her for battle.”’”

I have been in a good many cemeteries in my life. I don’t visit them for pleasure, but rather to pay respect to a friend or loved one. While I am there, I like to read headstones. Some of them tell a story of the one who is buried below. Wouldn’t today’s title be a great epitaph?

As we begin the book of Obadiah today, it is good to know that his name means “servant of Yah.” It could be translated also as “worshipper of God.” We don’t know exactly who this person was, but that doesn’t really matter. His name tells us all we need to know. He loved God. All his tombstone needed to say was Obadiah. Enough said.

APPLICATION

I pray you are known as a worshipper of God, as a servant of God. There is no other better reputation. But many people don’t want to be known as that because it would interfere with how they wanted to live. If you are known as God’s servant, you can’t live like a heathen.

Obadiah gives a prophecy about Edom, describing their demise. So, how does this relate to us? We can learn a lot from these verses as he describes why and how God judged them. Obadiah is a short book, only twenty-one verses. Let me encourage you to read the whole book today. Then we will see what it has for us tomorrow.

But for now, concentrate on being a servant of Yah, a worshipper of God, a Christ follower. If you do that, you will have made your Father in Glory proud. He will be pleased at your worship of Him, who is the only one worthy of worship. Worship the King.

I praise You, O God of the Ages. I worship You above all.

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ONLY TEN?

AMOS 6:9

“And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.”

When I read this verse, I immediately thought back to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you remember that story? The angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him He was about to destroy those cities because of their wickedness. Abraham finally asks him would He destroy them if just ten righteous men were found there. I just wonder if Amos is thinking of this same story.

But here in verse 9 of Amos 6, Amos turns it around and says God is going to destroy them no matter the number. Ten men may be all that’s left in a house, but they will die. God’s mercy has come to an end right here. All the wicked and disobedient must come before the Lord and face their judgment.

APPLICATION

Don’t be in that ten! Don’t push God’s mercy. He will, at some point, make you accountable for your sins. I bet those ten never thought they face death or exile. But here it is. We too must face it. Don’t let it get to this point. Repent!

We may think we are getting away with sin. We haven’t been caught in the act. We are sneaky. But sin has a way of manifesting itself. Before you know it, we incorporate that sinful pattern into our lives. We may hide it for a lifetime, but it will be exposed.

I come before the Lord each morning and confess my sins. Notice I said sins and not sin. I pray for forgiveness and ask for direction. It should come as no surprise that I do that. I am in this world, just like you. I pray that all my sin(s) are unintentional. But sin is sin. It all needs to be repented. 

Lord God, forgive me when I have fallen. Pick me up and give me a new heart.

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SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

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SILENCE

AMOS 5:23

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.”

Sometimes you just want silence. Can I get a witness? Amen! The noise of the world gets overwhelming. You want some peace and solitude. That is especially true if the noise is something you don’t want to hear, like really, bad country music. Lol.

God had had enough of their singing and music in their make-believe worship. They were still going through the motions of worship with all the noise it entailed. But God would have none of it. He recognized it for what it was – noise. He won’t listen to our empty efforts either.

APPLICATION

So, how do you know if your worship is genuine? Don’t you want to know that? I do. I don’t want to pretend to worship. I want to truly worship my Lord and Savior. I want to give Him all the honor and praise He is due. I don’t want to go through the motions.

Do you want to know what I’ve learned about worship? It comes from the heart. It has nothing to do with our emotions or our intellect. We can plan and plan every worship service. We can have the best praise band or choir around. None of that matters unless our hearts are right.

That’s why we have to start our worship long before we get to church. We have to get our hearts right, confessed clean and ready to receive from Him. When we have done that, worship overflows. Worship is a direct result of heart preparation. So, get your heart right! Then come to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Worship will follow.

I worship You, Lord. I praise Your holy name. You alone are worthy of my praise.

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