Abiding, Accountability, Accused, Bible, Consequences, Forgiveness, God's Will, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

TAKING THE BLAME

JONAH 1:12

“And he said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, because I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.’”

No one likes to take the blame for anything, whether they have done it or not. Accepting the blame for stuff goes against our very nature. We don’t want to be judged and ridiculed. It’s better to lie and let someone else get the blame. That’s just the way we are.

Jonah, however, accepts the blame. He says, “because I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” Doesn’t that sound noble? But I think Jonah had another motive. See what he tells them to do. “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea.” I believe he wanted to die rather than go to Nineveh. Not so noble.

APPLICATION

What have you done that you failed to take the blame for? Come on, be honest. We’ve all done it. Isn’t it time to make that right? But don’t use the same motive as Jonah. You need to face the consequences. That’s what God expects. Own up to it.

But our flesh rebels against that. We think if we’re not caught, it’s all good. Not so. Not taking blame for the wrong you have done is sin. There, I said it. Now confess it as sin and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Jonah didn’t do that in today’s verse. He owned up to it, but he didn’t confess it.

I am so glad I have a compassionate God who loves me unconditionally. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Oh, how sweet are those words. I depend on them. In fact, Psalm 62 says so. “My salvation and my honor depend on God. Aren’t you glad we can depend on Him to make all things right?

I love You, Lord. I know I can do nothing unless You are working in and through me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Confession, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture

CLEAN TEETH

AMOS 4:6

“‘But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I honestly do not like getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. I don’t mind brushing my teeth and even occasionally flossing them (not really, lol). But the twice-a-year cleanings are not something I look forward to. My hygienist is great, and my dentist is too. It’s just the scraping (and flossing) are not fun.

God was not giving the Israelites a teeth cleaning like I get. He had punished them through withholding food in an attempt to get them to return to Him. Your teeth don’t get too dirty when there is nothing to eat. But this didn’t work with them. They were so tied to their sinful ways that even that did not bring them back.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord done in your life in an attempt to bring you back to Him? Think hard about that. God will allow things in our life to draw us back. Some of those things are not pleasant. He may allow sickness. He may allow a loss of a job. Listen, there is nothing that God will not do to bring us back once we have strayed.

But what He won’t do is force us back. We have to return on our own. We have to choose to come back to Him with a repentant spirit. We have to acknowledge our sin and confess it to Him. He needs to see that we want to be up under His guidance once again.

I can speak from experience on this one. Unfortunately, I have not always followed the Lord as I should. I have made some huge, wrong decisions in my life that led me on a wayward path. But thanks be to God, He never quit pursuing me. His Holy Spirit kept prompting me and convicting me until I repented and returned. I got tired of clean spiritual teeth. I needed meat to eat. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for pursuing me. Thank You for drawing me back into Your embrace.

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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Consequences, Direction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Forgiveness, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

COME AND SEE

AMOS 3:9

“Proclaim on the citadels in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, ‘Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria and see the great panic within her and the oppressions in her midst.’”

I often wonder what people like about a hockey game or a Nascar race. I think they like to see a good fight in the hockey game and good wreck at the race. Either way, people are drawn to disasters. They just can’t seem to stop looking and awing over them. I guess it’s our weird human interest in the events

The Lord, through Amos, is telling the neighboring nations to watch what He is doing in Israel. He has already pronounced their judgment. Now, it’s Israel’s turn. Their judgment will be public for all to see. They had flaunted their sins publicly, so it only seems fit that their punishment should be too.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my sins aired out publicly. I want to confess my sins quickly and privately. My sins are against my Lord. Now, if I have sinned against someone else, I should go to them and make that right. But that’s a far cry from telling the world.

So, we need to go to the Lord quickly when we sin. If we continue to live in sin and thumb our nose at God, He will deal with us. We may think we are getting away with it, but we are not. Eventually, He has to deal with our sin. If we are a child of His, He will discipline us. If we are not a believer, the punishment will much harsher.

I choose to fall into His hands for correction. I trust Him to discipline me accordingly. Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” The same applies to our holy God. He loves us, so He must discipline us. So, invite His hand in your life.

Father, forgive me when I sin against You and others. I ask You to judge me accordingly and set me back on the right path.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Consequences, Discipline, Following, Forgiveness, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Listening, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture

PUNISHMENT FOR EVIL

Amos 3:6

If a trumpet is blown in a city, will the people not tremble? If a disaster occurs in a city, has the LORD not brought it about?

I can remember several times when I was disciplined by my dad for disobedience. One in particular stands out. We had a dog who took her puppies in the woods and left them. I went in the woods to find them after being told not to. It was summer, and in South Georgia there was the risk of rattlesnakes and moccasins. When my dad got home from work, he gave me a whooping. I had willfully and decisively disobeyed my parents. That was sin.

The first part of today’s verse is pretty self-explanatory. But the second part may be confusing. This is referring to God’s punishment for sin. The Lord does not cause disasters to harm the innocent. That goes against His whole nature. But He will bring a disaster upon a evil, sinful people. Remember the flood?

APPLICATION

Are you in a position that deserves God’s punishment? Are you willfully sinning against a holy God. Numbers 32:23 is Moses warning the tribes that wanted to stay on the other side of the Jordan. He says,
“But if you do not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure that your sin will find you out.” You’ve probably heard the last part of that verse quoted a lot. That’s where it comes from.

Listen – if we know what to do and don’t do it, that could be a sin of omission. We must choose to follow Jesus. That means making the right choices up front. Sure, we received forgiveness when we sin and confess that to God. But it is so much better to choose to do right first. If I had chosen to obey my parents and not go in the woods that day, I would not have been spanked.

I am thankful for parents who disciplined me. But I am more grateful for a God who will not tolerate my sin. He holds me accountable. He uses His Holy Spirit to convict me and drive me back to Him. I do not always obey. But it is my desire to do so. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Before getting saved, we chase sin. After we get saved, sin chases us. Don’t let it catch you.

Father God, I thank You for keeping me disciplined and corrected. I can be stubborn and rebellious.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, God's Will, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture

PUNISHMENT IS SURE

AMOS 2:5

“‘So I will send fire upon Judah, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.’”

When I was in the eighth grade, many moons ago, my homeroom teacher, who was also my junior varsity football coach, would call me and another student, who was also one of his players, up to the front of the room. He would give us both one swat with his paddle and say, “You’re both going to do something today to deserve this. Consider your punishment rendered.” I’m not sure that could be done today, lol.

Judah’s punishment was sure. The Lord uses the same language He used for Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. Just because Judah was His daughter, they did not escape His wrath. Why? Why didn’t God show them so preferential treatment? Why didn’t He let them off with a lighter punishment? Because He is just, and His judgments are justified.

APPLICATION

The same applies for us. Some people think that just because they have asked Christ to be their Savior, they can do anything they want and escape the consequences. Sure, those sins are forgiven, but all sins have consequences, either here or later. Of course, if we are Christians, we should be running from sin, not going towards it.

So, I know when I sin, I must go the Father as quickly as I can and confess that sin to Him. I don’t always do that, and I can feel the barrier building up in my prayer life. Have you felt like your prayers were hitting the ceiling? Perhaps your sins are bouncing them back. Try confessing them to Him right now. If you aren’t aware of them, ask Him to reveal them to you. He will. I promise you will feel that weight come off your shoulders.

My buddy and I certainly did things everyday to deserve those spankings. Why wouldn’t we? Our coach told us they were paid for in advance. That’s not how it works with God. I wish I could go back and correct that coach, but that was almost fifty years ago. I didn’t know the Lord then. I pray he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus himself.

Lord, I praise You for discipling me. It may be painful know, but it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Hope, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture, Suffering

IN HIS CROSSHAIRS

AMOS 1:3

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they threshed Gilead with iron sledges.’”

For you non-hunters reading my blog, the phrase “in His crosshairs” is a hunting term. It means you have your target in your sight. You are focused completely on the target you are aiming at. You may have other targets around, but at the moment, only this target is of importance. You have it right where you want it.

Damascus is the first of many targets the Lord had in His crosshairs. Of course, the audience that is hearing this from Amos is delighted he is talking about Damascus. They were an enemy of Israel. The Lord does judge our enemies in His perfect timing. Because of the way they had treated Gilead, they would be punished.

APPLICATION

Are there people in your life who are “threshing” you? Their treatment of you is harsh and unrelenting. They seem to get joy in seeing you hurt and suffering. Take courage, my brother. Have hope, my sister. The Lord is not blind to this. Remember that everything that touches us as believers has to go through His hands first. He is completely aware of what is happening.

We have to trust that if He is allowing these things in our lives, He is using them to make us more like His Son. He is allowing the “threshing” to knock off the chaff and reveal the pure grain underneath. The chaff has to be removed. It will be blown away revealing the grain underneath. Whatever is happening right now in your life, remember that God is aware.

I want my enemies zapped right now, don’t you? I want to see them pay for what they have done to me. That’s only human. Ah, therein lies the problem. We need to be concerned with the spiritual, not the flesh. As children of God, we trust Him to execute His judgment perfectly in His time. And He will. Trust Him.

As I see the “Damascus” in my life, I want relief. But Lord I trust You to teach me with whatever instrument You choose.

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YOUR JUST DESSERTS

JOEL 3:7

behold, I am going to stir them up from the place where you have sold them, and return your retribution on your head.

Sometimes people get just what they deserve. You may have heard that expression, “just desserts.” It means to get what’s coming to you. Now, to be honest, my flesh loves to see that happen. But I know Christ in me desires for others to repent and avoid the punishment of sin – kind of like Nineveh did when they heard Jonah’s message.

However, right here in Joel 3:7, God is telling the nations that they are going to receive the consequences for their sins. They have done evil to His children. Now it’s their turn to suffer for their actions. Yes, they had been used by Him to accomplish the judgment upon Judah, but they took it too far. They became haughty. God will now issue His judgment on them.

APPLICATION

So, the lesson for us is to not get too excited when we see someone else get punished for something they have done. We could just as easily be getting ours. None of us are innocent. We have all done things for which we deserved to be punished. So, we shouldn’t enjoy the punishment of others. In fact, we should do all we can to try to help them.

Of course, the ultimate punishment is the eternal judgment of God. As believers in Christ, our punishment has already been paid for by Christ. But think of the billions of people out there who are going to die and go to hell without hearing the gospel. We need to do all we can to advance the kingdom while there’s still time. What can you do today to help someone avoid their “just desserts”?

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know all the deeds I committed that earned me a place in hell. But because of the saving power of Jesus, my record was washed clean. Surely, He has cleansed me with hyssop and washed me whiter than snow. I want others to experience what I have experienced. Don’t you?

Father, I am so thankful I am not getting my just desserts when it comes to my sins. Thank You for cleansing my soul.

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Advocate, Bible, Consequences, Enemies, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

JOEL 3:2

“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Way back in 1985 I visited my sister in Chattanooga. I was living in Dalton at the time. On the way to see her at the hospital where she had just had surgery, I had a car wreck. It wasn’t anything serious, but I got a ticket and had to appear in traffic court. When I went to court, I spent the whole morning listening to dozens of drunk driving cases. When I finally stood before the judge, he hardly looked at me. He started rattling off about how I shouldn’t drink and drive. The officer who was there with me, told him I had not been drinking. Without batting an eye, he pronounced judgment on me.

I am so thankful the Lord does not pronounce judgment on us that way. Here in Joel 3:2, the Lord is pronouncing judgment upon all the nations that had conquered Judea. He used them to judge Judea, but they had gone beyond in their abuse of Judea. They had scattered them. In return, God was going to scatter them. I am sure Judeans were thrilled to hear that their enemies were finally going to be judged.

APPLICATION

We will all be judged one day. Believers will be judged for their works here on earth for the cause of Christ. We see that in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 when it talks about our works being either wood, hay or stubble or gold, silver and precious stones. One group will survive the fires of judgment. The other won’t. For believers, that will be our judgment because our sins have already been paid for through Christ.

However, for everyone else, they will face the Great White Throne judgment talked about in Scripture. That will be a quick judgment. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you are judged guilty of your sins and sentenced to an eternity away from God in hell. Many people today don’t believe in hell. Let me tell you something. Your disbelief in hell does not lower the temperature there one degree. It’s real and eternal.

I am so thankful that my “fire insurance policy” is paid for and up to date. I don’t say that flippantly. My relationship with Christ is much more than an escape from hell. But it does include that. It’s kind of like one of those rider policies you have on your homeowner’s insurance. I am bought and paid for. You can be too, if you give your life to Him. Do that today.

Father God, I am so thankful You called me to Yourself. I am thankful my judgment is different than those who don’t believe.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Condemnation, Destruction, Holiness, Judgment, Punishment, Repentance, Rescue, Scripture

THE DAY OF THE LORD

JOEL 1:15

“Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Barnes, in his commentary on Joel, says, “‘The Day of the Lord’ is, then, each day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will.” Wow! Who wants that?

Joel is telling his audience in Judah that the day has arrived. He uses the term “Almighty” to describe God. This term is almost exclusively used to refer to God’s might. His power is supreme. We cannot overcome it. And He brings destruction on mankind because of their sins.

APPLICATION

Judgment will come upon us all. But for the believer, it will be the judgment of our works, not our sins. Our sins have already been judged and paid for through the shed blood of Jesus. Others, outside of Christ, will pay a horrible price unless they come to Him and repent and receive the free gift of salvation. Why would anyone choose to face God’s judgment?

If we truly believed in God’s judgment, wouldn’t we be telling everyone we came into contact with about Him? Is there someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus? What are you waiting for? Tell them about Him? Live Jesus before them. They should be begging you to tell them what makes you different. Are you? Do you live differently than they do? I sure hope so.

I am so thankful that my sins have been judged and paid for. I know I could never stand before a holy God and explain away my sins. I know I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternal damnation. But praise God, I am innocent and free through Jesus. There is no feeling like it. So, what will it be – judgment or freedom?

I know I am redeemed and set free through Jesus, Lord. I praise Your holy name for the blood He shed for my sins.

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TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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