Advocate, Battles, Bible, Covenant, Judgment, Protection, Redemption, Restoration, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

OUR DEFENDER 

MICAH 7:10 

“Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will look at her; at that time she will be trampled down like mud of the streets.” 

I like most of the Marvel movies that have come out. They fight against evil forces to save others. Almost always, they seem to be defeated, only to turn the tide on their enemy and come out on top. Those whom they are saving just know their fate is doomed until their hero swoops in to save them. 

God did redeem Israel. Micah prophesied as such. He knew his God would not forsake them. Sure, the nation deserved judgment. They had sinned against Him. But the very ones who were mocking them “Where is the LORD your God” would be judged themselves by a righteous and holy God. 

APPLICATION 

We were defeated by sin. We had no way of escape. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). But God…He sent His only begotten Son into the world to rescue us. Much like the Marvel heroes (but with real supernatural power), Jesus saved us. His method, however, seemed strange. 

Jesus did not descend with a myriad of angels to destroy Satan and his demons. That will come later. Jesus came as a baby to die for us. That made no sense, but often God’s methods do not to us. His plan, which was laid out from the very beginning, was perfect.  

Aren’t you glad God did things the way He did? His ways are always better than our ways. His methodologies, which at times confuse us, never confuse Him. He knows exactly what He is doing. He turned the tide with our enemy then, and He does now.  

O, praise You Lord, for saving my soul. I thank You for redeeming me from the pit and crowning me with love and compassion. 

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Accountability, Bible, God's Will, Innocent, Life, Protection, Scripture

NO VALUE OF LIFE 

MICAH 7:2 

“The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among mankind. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; each of them hunts the other with a net.” 

I do not know if you are a movie fan. I gravitate towards Westerns or Action films. My wife, on the other hand, prefers the dramas. This verse today reminds me of the old Mel Gibson film “Mad Max.” It is set in the future when people’s lives really meant nothing. Killing was a way of life.  

That is exactly the kind of scene Micah is describing. It was a dog-eat-dog world. People held no value of life. Micah even says, “each of them hunts the other with a net.” Wow! Whatever was going on, it was not good. Indiscriminate killing and taking of life were happening, all of which God frowns on. 

APPLICATION 

I cannot help but think about the current worldview on abortion. This issue has divided my country since the infamous Roe vs Wade decision in the 1970’s. Legalized abortion has claimed the innocent lives of millions of babies in America, not to mention how many have died worldwide. 

I thank God our Supreme Court has overturned that awful decision and are now allowing each state to decide how to allow abortions. But do not forget this fact – abortion is still legal and being practiced in America and around the world. We may not be casting a net on someone, but we are taking a life God had tremendous plans for. 

I cannot help but refer us to Psalm 139. These words should settle any doubt. 

“13 For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully formed in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my formless substance; and in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” 

Lord, forgive us for not putting the value on life that You do. Help us to see each life as precious and redeemable. 

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Affliction, Bible, Examples, God's Will, Gospel, Love, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

BIG FISH STORY

JONAH 1:17

“And the LORD designated a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish for three days and three nights.”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to fish. I have learned a little secret about sending selfies with fish I have caught. Shh, do not tell anyone. You must hold the fish closer to the camera. Lol

Now, this was a big fish that God appointed to swallow Jonah. Get the picture! Jonah is thrown into the sea during the storm. He immediately sinks below the surface, as it miraculously calms. And then from the deep, a fish emerges and swallows him whole. Some people do not believe this story. They say it is allegory. I would believe it if it said Jonah swallowed the fish.

APPLICATION

What can we learn from this story? Do not swim with large fish? No! Never leave the ship without a harpoon? No! Don’t you get it? God protected Jonah by having him swallowed by that fish. He preserved him so He could use him later.

Notice the time he was in the fish. Three days and three nights. In fact, Jesus refers to this and applies it to Himself in Matthew 12:39-40. “39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves a sign; and so no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS IN THE STOMACH OF THE SEA MONSTER FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Jonah had to be swallowed by the fish, just as Jesus was swallowed by the grave. Both emerged alive, a miracle. Jonah’s reemergence led to the repentance of Nineveh. Jesus’ resurrection led to the salvation and the promise of eternal life for all mankind. Have you claimed that? It’s yours for the asking.

I love You, Lord, and I thank You for the story of Jonah that reminds me of our Savior’s burial and resurrection.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Protection, Scripture, Storms, Trials

YOU’RE IT

JONAH 1:7

“And each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let’s cast lots so that we may find out on whose account this catastrophe has struck us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.”

I used to hate when we picked teams in elementary school at recess to play a game. Depending on the game, I would get picked early or late. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I was one biggest. So, if it was a speed game, I was usually picked near the end. I usually felt unlucky and undervalued.

Jonah was picked by lot. The soldiers knew something about this storm they were in was divine. They could read storms, and this one didn’t fit their knowledge. So, they turned to casting lots to choose who was at fault, who had offended their god. They still didn’t understand who this God was who was trying to get Jonah’s attention. God even guided the lots, and they fell on Jonah.

APPLICATION

The Lord may have chosen you to go through a trial right now. He has tapped you on the shoulder and said you’re going in. It’s your turn. You’re it. That doesn’t make God a cruel God. It makes Him a specific God. He doesn’t haphazardly call us into these tough situations.

I just got an email from a friend of mine who serves in another country. His young son was hit by a motorcycle while walking home from school. He had a compound fracture to his femur and many cuts and contusions. Why? Why would God allow this? For some reason, God tapped them on the shoulder and chose them for this trial, knowing that going through it with Him would make them more like His son. (Pray for their son Ian).

Every trial we go through will shape us and mold us into His image. God is not trying to maim us or destroy us. That’s the devil’s game. God allows trials to touch us only to draw us closer. Do you trust a God like that? I do. I’ve been there. I’ve seen how He works. Watch Him work in yours.

Lord, thanks for picking me to show others how You work. I many not like the process, but I do like the end result.

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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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Bible, Boasting, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Enemies, Envy, Loyalty, Mercy, Protection, Rejoicing, Relationships, Scripture

NO GLOATING

OBADIAH 12

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast on the day of their distress.”

I haven’t mentioned that my alma mater, the University of Georgia, won the National Collegiate Football Championship. The only thing better than that is seeing my school’s archrival, the University of Florida, lose. Lol. When they lose and my team wins, I can gloat just a bit. Sorry Gator fans.

God warned Edom to stop their gloating over Judah’s demise. They were actually celebrating the fact that Judah was being defeated by their enemies. They didn’t come to their defense. They were cheering on the nations who were carrying their brothers into exile. That’s kind of messed up.

APPLICATION

Whose demise are you rejoicing over? We still do this today. We watch people we don’t like have troubles, and we inwardly rejoice. What?! Yes! Even believers do this. That’s right. Believers rejoice when others suffer. You don’t believe me? Just listen to the conversations around you.

We have to stop doing that. We have no right to watch someone else suffer, friend or foe, and rejoice. Don’t get me wrong. I believe enemies of the cross should be confronted. If they don’t repent, they will suffer. But I don’t believe the Lord wants to see that. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t want to see anyone face judgment without Him.

I am so grateful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am filled with His Spirit, so I should see everyone as He does – a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you join me in clarifying our view of others – all others? Let’s link arms and lift up those who have fallen – not look on and gloat.

O Father, forgive me when I have that inner twinge of self-righteousness brought on when I see someone suffer.

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Battles, Bible, Destruction, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Leading, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

ROUGH RIDE

AMOS 6:12

“Do horses run on rocks? Or does one plow them with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,”

I’m a member of a hunting lease here in Tennessee. I love going out there to hunt. One section of the lease, which I love to hunt, has become almost inaccessible due to the condition of the road. This road is full of rocks and ruts. Without a four-wheeler or a four-wheel drive truck, you are out of luck.

Amos uses the imagery of horses running on rocks in verse 12. I’m not a horse expert, but even I know that is destructive and harmful to the horse. It will end with broken legs which could lead to death. Get the picture. The Israelites had turned justice and the fruit of righteousness into something destructive and perhaps deadly.

APPLICATION

What have you turned around? We tend to want to see things our own way. We justify our sins. We make excuses for our behavior. We blame it on genetics today. The perversions of the flesh are explained away. That’s the same as riding horseback on rocks.

Why don’t we all simply go the Word and let it guide us? If we would do that, our life would go so much smoother. I am not saying we wouldn’t face challenges. We would. But we would know how to face them and get through them.

I am thankful the Lord has led me to filter all my decisions through His Word. It has a way of directing me. That filter is never going to lead me in a direction that is harmful to me. It will always point me to Jesus, which is exactly where I want to be. So, stop riding on rocks!

Father, Your road may not be free of obstacles, but I know I can trust You to guide me. I do not fear the journey, as long as I am with You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Contentment, Discipline, Following, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

TRUSTWORTHY

AMOS 6:1

“Woe to those who are carefree in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the dignitaries of the foremost of nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.”

Some things can’t be trusted. Believe me! Once while hiking, I came across this wooden bridge that crossed a creek. It had obviously been hand built and was old. I wanted to cross that creek but wasn’t sure about the strength of this old bridge. I was by myself, so I chose to find another place to cross. That old, rickety bridge just didn’t look trustworthy.

Israel was acting carefree and at ease in Zion. They were trusting in the wrong things. They thought Samaria couldn’t be taken. It was the last city to fall to the invaders, but it too fell under God’s judgment. The only thing that is totally trustworthy is God. Everything else is subject to failing. You would think Israel knew that.

APPLICATION

Oh my! This certainly applies to us, doesn’t it? We tend to trust everything else but God. We trust the government. We trust family. We trust our educators. We trust… You get the picture. We want to trust everything else until everything has failed us. Then, as a last resort, we turn to God.

When will WE learn? God should always be our first thought. He is always there. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is the trustworthy one. There is not a problem He can’t solve. He has the answers to each and every trial we face. But we have to trust Him.

That trust begins at salvation. When we place our trust in Him to save our souls, it should continue for our lifetime. Think about it. If we trust Him for eternity, why can’t we trust Him for our daily needs and struggles? Let Him have them today. Place your total trust on Him. He never fails.

Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love. I know You are always there to catch me when I fall.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Seeking

WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

AMOS 5:14

“Seek good and not evil, so that you may live; and so may the LORD God of armies be with you, just as you have said!”

Hide and seek is a wonderful childhood game. My almost four-year-old granddaughter loves to play it when she is over at our house. She loves for me to scare her when she finds me. She will scream and then burst out laughing. For her, seeking Poppy is a good thing. I hope she always feels that way.

Oh, but Amos is talking about a whole different kind of seeking. He tells us plainly to seek good and not evil. Carl, I don’t seek evil. It just kind of finds me. And it will, time and time again unless you are busy seeking good. Good is only found in Jesus. We are told to seek first His kingdom. That’s the key.

APPLICATION

So, what are you seeking? What do you spend the majority of your time trying to achieve? I spent decades in my ministry trying to achieve things, some good and some not so good. I wouldn’t call any of them evil, but when you are not seeking the best the Lord has for you, can it be considered good?

The LORD God of armies wants you to seek the best. And He gives us all we need to do that. We have His Word to point the way. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us each day in our decisions. He has given us direct access to the throne room of heaven to petition Him when we are confused. What else do we need?

I choose to seek good and not evil. I flee from evil. And the more I seek good, the easier it is for me to recognize evil. That makes it so simple. Seek good and not evil is not a complicated command. Let’s do that today.

LORD God of armies, I praise Your name that You have given me everything I need to seek good and not evil. Keep me safe as I follow You.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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