Abiding, Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Discipline, Godliness, Integrity, Purity, Scripture

SOUND THE TRUMPETS

ZEPHANIAH 1:16

“A day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and the high corner towers.”

I have never played a trumpet but have the utmost respect for those who do. One of my favorite trumpeters is Phil Driscoll. He is amazing. He’s been playing the trumpet for decades and using it to praise the Lord. If you haven’t heard him, you need to check out some of his music.

Unfortunately, Zephaniah isn’t referring to Phil Driscoll in today’s verse. Instead, he is reminding the people of the trumpets that were played in times of war. There were different trumpets and different sounds played to give signals and warnings. Now, they are going to hear God’s trumpet as He brings judgment on the land.

APPLICATION

God may not sound a trumpet to give us warnings, but we have every warning sign we need in His Word. All throughout its pages God tells us how to live and the consequences if we don’t. It would be nice if we had red lights that flashed and got buzzed with an electric current every time we came close to straying, but God gives us that infamous free will, doesn’t He?

The only way we can stay holy is to follow His Word. I love 2 Peter 1:3-4. “3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

So, what is our excuse? It says very clearly that He has given us everything we need to live godly lives. We want trumpets to blare and sound the warning. We want God to reach down and jerk us away from sin. We have to make the choice – the choice to live holy, to live in purity. Will you today?

Take my life, lead me Lord, take my life, lead me Lord!

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Evil, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHAT A DISGRACE

HABAKKUK 2:16

“‘You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Drink, you yourself, and expose your own foreskin! The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.’”

Too many men have fallen into disgrace in the recent years through moral indiscretions, bad choices and just plain being dumb. My first thought when I hear these stories is where were the godly men in their lives holding them accountable. Where were their friends?

God continues in verse 16 with this most recent woe. Here He is warning the Chaldeans of their own self-imposed disgrace. Their shame knew no low. Drunkenness, nudity and immoral behaviors ran deep in their lifestyles. They did not recognize the holiness of God or care that He had warned them of justice.

APPLICATION

Before you start pointing fingers at them, take a look at yourself. You may not live a disgraceful, public life, but how about your private thoughts? How about that secret sin you have hidden away (or so you think)? As believers, we are to live holy lives (check out 2 Peter 3:14). Our actions are to be above reproach.

I know you are probably thinking that your “little sin” isn’t hurting anyone. It’s all yours. It’s not anyone’s business. But our sins do not live in isolation. Sooner or later all those sins affect those closest to you. That secret porn addiction is harming your relationship with your spouse. That second or third glance at someone plants ideas in your mind that will come back to haunt you.

Christ has the answer. Amputation! Don’t get alarmed. I am not talking about any bodily maiming. But I am meaning that you have to take drastic action to rid yourself of these enticements. He has given you the power to do it through His Holy Spirit. Lean into Him. He is there. Listen to Him and obey.

Purify my mind today, O Lord. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

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Abuse, Bible, Darkness, Evil, Flesh, Holiness, Justice, Purity, Scripture

DEBAUCHERY

HABAKKUK 2:15

“‘Woe to him who makes his neighbor drink; to you who mix in your venom even to make your neighbors drunk, so as to look at their genitalia!’”

I have read too many case files of child abuse. Just when I thought I had heard it all, I would get another case with even darker sins exposed. Actions taken against children anger me. To see their innocence robbed of them makes me scream for justice. One day all those perpetrators will receive their just reward.

The third woe has begun, and this one is against such abuse of others. Getting others drunk in order to leer at their nakedness or even abuse them was abhorrent to God. These Chaldeans were a wicked bunch of people and used their power over their enemies to abuse them.

APPLICATION

You are probably not going to carry out such actions on another person. At least I hope you wouldn’t. But we can be just as sinful in our minds. Jesus told us to even look at a woman with lust in our hearts is a sin. That goes for women looking at men as well. You may not be getting them drunk and abusing them, but you are sinning against them just as much.

How do you protect yourself from such base desires of the flesh? By filling your mind with His Word. The more of His Word we have memorized and studied, the more weapons we have to fight off those evil desires of the heart. It takes discipline and effort to memorize Scripture, but the payoff is one hundred fold.

Why don’t you make a plan to start memorizing one verse a week? That’s not hard to do if you are determined to do it. There are many tools you can use, including some pretty, cool Bible apps to help. As you begin to do this, you will find those impure thoughts become less and less because your mind is flooded with pure things. Give it a try.

Fill my mind with Your Words, O Lord. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.

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Bible, Direction, Holiness, Purity, Scripture

PURE EYES

HABAKKUK 1:13

Your eyes are too pure to look at evil, and You cannot look at harm favorably. Why do You look favorably at those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?”

When I read this verse today, my thoughts immediately went to Job 31:1. “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully on a young woman.” I want my eyes to be pure, but ian this world, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. Our eyes are under constant bombardment.

Habakkuk knows God’s eyes are pure. He knows the God of His people cannot stand to look on sin. So, why is He allowing these wicked Chaldeans to come in and defeat them? Why is a holy God using them to judge Israel? Surely, God cannot handle looking on such evil.

APPLICATION

Everywhere we look, evil abounds. This world is constantly throwing evil our way. Any attempt to have holy eyes is a target for the evil one. He uses every conceivable method to divert our eyes off of God and onto the evil.

Thankfully, we can rely on God’s eyes remaining holy. Yes, He used the Chaldeans to judge Israel. He was doing that to bring them back to Himself. It wasn’t to drive them further away. God will not shield our eyes from evil just to make our lives easier. That is not how He works.

God will steer our eyes toward the holy, but we are in total control of what we choose to look at. We can choose to peer into the abyss of sin or into the heavenlies. What holds more promise. His Word directs our eyes. Our time with God reading His Word and praying points our vision.

Keep my gaze on the holy things, Lord. I only want what is holy to come into my view.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

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Agreement, Bible, Brokenness, Discipline, Fasting, Hearing, Humility, Intimacy, Modeling, Offering, Prayer, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture, Suffering

FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Holiness, Horror, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Purity, Scripture, Testimony

HORROR SHOWS

HOSEA 6:10

“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;

Ephraim’s infidelity is there, Israel has defiled itself.”

Before I came to Christ, I loved to watch horror movies. I loved the blood and gore. I know – that’s sick, right? But back then I didn’t really have a filter for what entered my mind. The Holy Spirit wasn’t guiding my thoughts and eyes and ears. The world had complete control of me, and everything seemed fine. Horror was okay with me.

But can you imagine how bad it must have been in the house of Israel for God to call something horrible? Think about it. God has seen the most horrible of horrible. How bad was it? Undoubtedly, pretty bad. God doesn’t tolerate horrible. He doesn’t allow it in His presence. He is holy and pure. Ephraim knew that. The people knew that, but they just kept on with the horrible lifestyles and choices.

APPLICATION

Nothing has changed much today. Our world is still making horrible choices. Look all around you. Marriage has been defiled by all the “alternative” lifestyles that are out there. Genders are being questioned and even reassigned outside God’s design. Babies in the wombs are not safe from our “choices.” I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

It doesn’t matter where you live on this terrestrial ball we call earth. People are still engaged in horror shows. So, what can we do about it? Stop watching! Stop participating! Start speaking up for truth. But Carl, if I do that I might face persecution. So what? We must stand up for the truth of God’s Word. He will tell when that is appropriate. He will give you the words to say. Be bold.

I know that is easy for me to say here in print. I can sit behind a computer screen and give you advice. But it’s more than that. I am also fed up with the horror show. I will join you in this battle. Can you claim your family in this fight? How about your city or state or country? Let’s begin, people. Let’s stop being horrible and start being holy.

Father, I am tired of the horrible state of our world. Give me the boldness to stand up for You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Cleansing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Mentoring, Parenting, Purity, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

WHAT HOPE?

1 JOHN 3:3

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Well, last night I went to bed with my team, the Atlanta Braves, leading in the fifth inning in game seven of the National League Championship. I tried to stay up but was just too tired. I went to bed with a hope they would hold on to win and go to the World Series. Guess what? That didn’t happen. The Dodgers came back to win, sending Atlanta home.

If you read this verse by itself, you have to ask yourself, “What hope?” That hope is not my hope in the Braves (thank goodness). You need to go back and read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 3. That hope is solely in Christ. John tells us if our hope is in Him then we should live in such a way to honor Him. We should purify ourselves by putting anything out of lives that dishonors Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love bath time with the kids? Really? You don’t? It can be a challenge, especially when they get a little older. Little boys love to play outside and do not necessarily like to wash that outside off once they come in. The smells of where they have been and what they have been doing are all over them.

The next time you are discussing bath time with the kiddos, read them this verse. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Explain to them that just as the physical world can affect how we smell, the spiritual world can affect how we live. We have to keep ourselves cleaned up spiritually through confession and righteous living to remove the stench of sin. You may not can smell that sin, but you can sure see the results of it in your life.

How pure are you today? Jesus wants you to walk before Him purified and reflecting Him. He is not honored by our wallowing in sin and professing to be a believer. He, in fact, demands pure living. Will you confess whatever it is you need to confess today? Let Him cleanse you and help you walk in purity.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life. Thank You for convicting me of the impurities I carry along with me. I want to walk representing You.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Modeling, Peace, Perseverance, Purity, Trust

PROVEN PRECIOUS

I PETER 1:7

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 

Our faith is precious, more precious than gold. And Peter reminds us how gold is proven to be precious. It is tested by fire. The same is true about our faith. It, too, will go through testing.

One scholar wrote,
“Christians should be willing to pass through trials: (a) They will purify their religion, just as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b) They will make it shine more brightly, just as gold does when it comes out of the furnace. (c) They will disclose more fully its value. (d) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.”

APPLICATION

So, how do you apply this verse? By living through those testings. As you encounter hard times, you have the God given opportunity to trust Him to prove your faith. Your children are watching. As you talk to them about how you are trusting the Lord in the process, they are listening.

You may not think these moments will be remembered by them. After all, they are young. But, oh, they will remember. God will make sure of that. Trusting moments stick. Faith producing moments make impacts, especially on young lives. And when God brings you through, and He will, celebrate that with your children.

Are you in a trial right now? Is your faith being put through the fire? Thank the Lord that He is purifying it. Thank Him that You know it is more precious than gold. Gold will not last forever. Even it is eventually destroyed. But not our faith. With each “firing” it becomes stronger. Believe that!

I praise You for the fires! I may not enjoy the process, but I am thankful for the outcome. Purify me, Lord!

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