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.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Calling, Confidence, Encouragement, God's Will, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Redemption, Remnant

A REMNANT

OBADIAH 5

“If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—Oh how you will be ruined!—Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape-pickers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings??

My Uncle Hugh Lee was a produce farmer. He grew large fields of tomatoes and cabbages for the market. Every year, at the end of the season, he let us come out and get all we wanted that was left in the fields. My mom canned the tomatoes for winter and cooked up a big mess of cabbage.

Obadiah is using an analogy of common, everyday life to not only let them know what was coming (judgment), but that there would also be a remnant left to return. God was not done with them yet. He still had plans for His chosen nation. They, however, had to deal with the judgment to come.

APPLICATION

You may be going through a hard time right now. You may feel like the Lord has forgotten you and left you to wander. That is not our God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He must discipline us at times, but He will not leave us there. You can trust that truth.

Where are you right now? Do you need assurance? We all do. That’s normal. But if you are in a pit of despair right now, thinking that God has forgotten you, stop. He knows exactly where you are. Call out to Him today. He hears, even from the deepest pit.

I honestly don’t know what I would do if didn’t have the knowledge that God loves me. I don’t understand why He does, but He does. I certainly don’t deserve it. But He has called me His own. If you are in Christ, so are you. So, today, live like it.

From the deepest valley, you hear my voice when I cry to You, O Lord. I know You are there and ready to rescue Your remnant.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

RETURN TO FORTUNES

AMOS 9:14

“I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.”

I can’t begin to imagine being ripped from my home and sent off to a foreign land with no hope of escape. The horrors of war are all around us. We are all watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are all heartbroken at the scenes of children crossing a border into a country that is not their home. What do we do?

Israel had been removed from their land. Now God is promising to restore them after they have been through this trial. The Hebrew text for “I will restore the fortunes” literally could be translated “I will bring back the captives.” So, the Lord is promising not just a return of fortunes but freedom.

APPLICATION

Beloved, listen to me. God knows where you are. He has not lost contact with you. You may feel that way, but He is completely aware of where you have been and where He is sending you. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Rest in Him. Trust that He will restore you. But you must first return to Him. Repentance is required. You cannot expect a holy God to return you without movement on your part. Oh, but when you take that first step towards Him, He rushes to you to restore you.

I have made the decision too many times to trying to wait out God. Let me tell you – that doesn’t work. The eternal, timeless, ageless God literally has all the time in the world. He can outwait you. Don’t waste that precious time. Run to Him now. Enjoy your restoration.

I love You, Lord, and will quickly return to You, not for any fortunes, but to enjoy Your presence.

Standard
Abiding, Battles, Bible, Calling, Choices, Confession, Destruction, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

I’VE HAD ENOUGH

AMOS 7:2

“And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, ‘Lord GOD, please pardon! How can Jacob stand? For he is small.’”

My father accepted Christ at age 80. It was after a stay in the hospital with heart failure. You have to understand that my dad was someone who could fix anything. He had always been able to do that. Now, here he was, laying in bed unable to “fix it.” It was then that he told the Lord that he had enough. He finally gave up and surrendered.

Even Amos was begging God to stop the judgment against Israel. He was fearful of their utter destruction. God will do whatever necessary to draw us to Himself. He will allow things in our lives that will push us to the point of repentance. Amos was witnessing such an event. God wasn’t done with Israel yet, but the people had to realize their need for a Savior.

APPLICATION

We are the same. I came to Christ after a period of rebellion and wrong living. I was playing the part of a Christian but had never really surrendered. It took God doing an incredible work in my life to draw me to Him.

God loves us so much. He is just waiting for us to say, “I surrender, Lord.” Then, instantly, He is there to welcome us into His loving embrace. We are ushered into His kingdom. We are a child of the King from that moment forward. But we have to surrender. Have you?

Oh, I pray you have surrendered your will for His. It is so much better. Life has purpose in His will. You will still face difficult times, but they are so much sweeter with Him. Yes, I said sweeter. Knowing that He allows us to go through these trials to make us more like Him is somewhat comforting. Had I rather not have trial? You had better believe it. But I trust Him. Do you?

Father God, You are the only one to whom I will surrender. I trust You through every storm.

Standard
Accountability, Asking, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Oppression, Redemption, Scripture

SCHEDULING ERROR

AMOS 6:3

“Are you postponing the day of disaster, and would you bring near the seat of violence?”

Recently I tried to sync two calendars. One was on my iPhone and the other one was on my laptop (which is not an Apple product). You can guess what happened. Nothing. I couldn’t get the two products to “talk” to each other. I need these two calendars to sync so I can add appointments on either. Without that, I was definitely going to face some scheduling issues.

Israel didn’t want to hear about the coming day of disaster. They wanted put that off for as long as possible. Who wouldn’t? Who wants to hear that judgment is here? However, Amos, in asking this question, is not giving them an out. He is merely stating how foolish it is to assume we can ignore what is coming.

APPLICATION

It’s no difference for us. We can’t be the ostrich with his head stuck in the sand pretending what he cannot see cannot hurt him. Judgment day is coming. I pray we are all ready. We don’t know when, but we are sure it is coming. What do we do? How can we be ready?

There is only one way – Jesus. He points the way to freedom. He shows us the way out. He delivers His people. He protects us from that day of disaster because He has already paid the price for us. Hallelujah! Don’t you believe that?

The day of disaster holds no trepidation for me. I know in whom I have believed. He holds me tight and will never let go. He has promised me a life with Him in eternity. I have nothing to fear. He is there – always. Wow! Now, that is something to shout about. I hope you’re shouting.

There is no other person or thing in which to hope besides You, Lord. Thank You for being the one constant in my life.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Confession, Faith, Forgiveness, Gospel, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD

AMOS 4:12

“‘Therefore so I will do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.’”

Anytime you prepare to meet someone, don’t you do things to get ready? Usually, you get cleaned up and maybe clean your house. Depending on who the person is you may prepare a big meal and invite your friends. You see, preparing to meet someone takes preparation.

Israel had not prepared to meet their God. They had been living rebellious and sinful lives and weren’t ready to meet Him. Somehow, they had forgotten God had been with them from long ago. They had lost sight of that. Now, God tells them to prepare to meet Him. This was not going to be a pleasant meeting.

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. Are you prepared to meet your God? There are only two possible answers to that question. You are either ready or you’re not. And there is only one way to be ready. You have to turn to God, confess your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. You must accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior.

That’s how you prepare to meet your God. And guess what. God can’t wait to meet you – right there. The very moment you turn to Him He comes running to you. He has been looking forward to this meeting for a long time. He has longed to meet with you one on one. Isn’t that incredible?

I am so glad I made that decision back in 1977. I knew about God long before that, but I didn’t have a face-to-face meeting until then. I didn’t have to go looking for Him. I just had to prepare to meet Him, and He was there. Wow! I didn’t deserve it, but I got to meet with the Maker of the Universe. So can you.

Father God, I am humbled that You wanted to meet with me. Help me introduce others to You so they can have their own person meeting with You.

Standard
Bible, Blameless, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

THE STENCH OF DEATH

AMOS 4:10

“‘I sent a plague among you as in Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I don’t know if you have ever smelled a dead carcass our not, but it is awful. Often, when I am in the woods hunting, I will run across a dead dear or other animal. I can smell it long before I see it. The stench can be overwhelming, depending on how long it’s been there. It’s not a good smell.

The Lord’s judgment on Israel included death, death to their soldiers and livestock. Here in verse 10 of chapter 4, Amos speaks for the Lord recounting those deaths. The phrase “the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils” is so descriptive. That smell does stick in your nose. Even that smell did not drive the Israelites back to Him.

APPLICATION

Our sins smell just as retched in God’s nostrils. The stench of our sins rise up to heaven. We can’t cover them up with a scented candle or a matchstick. The smell of our sins covers us until we wash them off in confession. And there is nothing that can remove them except the blood of Christ.

That may sound kind of silly. How can blood, which has its own smell, wash away the smell of our sins? Because this isn’t just some plain, ordinary blood. As it says in 1 Peter 1:19, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” That’s the difference. His blood is pure. Only His blood can wash that stench off.

I am so thankful I have surrendered my life to Him and allowed that unblemished, spotless Lamb’s blood cleanse me. I can walk stench free because of Him. I don’t have to worry about how I smell. My sins are forgiven. I know who to come to when I need to confess. How do you smell today?

O Father, I praise You for sending Your Son, on this special day to rid this world of this stench of sin. Help me point others towards His blood.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Leading, Ministry, Redemption

ARCHER

Amos 2:15

“’The one who grasps the bow will not stand his ground, the swift of foot will not escape, nor will the one who rides the horse save his life.'”

A friend of mine has a son who is an incredible archer. He has won just about every state and national title shooting a basic recurve bow. He has accomplished so much in such a short time. But one thing about an archer is they must be able to stand still. You can’t be moving around and be precise. My friend’s son is precise. He knows how to stand still and shoot straight.

I noticed in today’s verse that the Lord points out the fact the archer must stand his ground. He must stand firm, even when the battle is headed his way, even when the enemies arrows are falling all around him. In order to hit the target, the archer has to stand firm. Then he has to aim at the target to hit it. The Lord is saying here that they no longer will be able to do that

APPLICATION

Standing firm is critical to fighting our spiritual battles. We have to face our enemy head on. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to stand firm and resist the devil. Paul tells us in Ephesians to stand firm and put on the full armor of God. All through the Bible we are told to stand firm. It must be pretty important. So, why aren’t we doing that?

We, myself included, tend to limp around when it comes to spiritual warfare. So many believers are scared of the subject. But listen to me, you have to stand firm, draw back your bow and trust God with the rest. We may not be skilled with a bow, but we can sure stand firm and ask the Lord to guide the arrow. He will, you know.

I am so thankful for a God that understands my need and prepares me for battle. I do not want to be like that archer who will not stand his ground.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Fire, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

HERE WE GO AGAIN

AMOS 1:10

“‘So I will send fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will consume her citadels.’”

I love American football. I love everything about it. It’s such a great sport. Anyone who has watched the game will notice something. Once a coach discovers a weakness in the other team’s defense, he will continue to exploit it. He will run plays which will allow his team to succeed. Unless the other team makes adjustments, they will certainly lose.

Once again, for the third time, the Lord is raining fire down on His enemies. He attacks the fortified towers or the citadels to show that nothing can hold back the judgment of the Almighty. Tyre’s walls and towers are no match for God. His wrath cannot be contained. They are helpless before Him.

APPLICATION

I pray that you know that you are no match for God. If you choose to fight against Him, you will lose. He knows all. None of your plans to outwit Him will work. No secrets are hidden. Your best decision is to submit to His lordship and accept Jesus as Your Savior.

So many of us fight against Him. We might not call it fighting, but it is. Unless we have surrendered our will to His, we are enemies of God. Until we give our hearts and lives to Jesus, we are pulling for the other side. But the very moment we take that first step toward the Savior, He rushes in to save us. Hallelujah. We simply lay down our desires and allow Him to refresh us.

I am so glad I have done that. I fought Him for years. I thought I was getting by. I thought I was fooling everyone. I said I believed in God, but my behavior said differently. I lived for pleasure and self-fulfillment. When I finally came to the end of myself, He moved in. I was changed instantly. My citadel is Jesus. He is the One who protects and fortifies me. And His walls are impenetrable. I am safe and secure inside His tower of defense. Are you?O God, You are such an awesome God. You are faithful to protect and defend me.

Standard