Accountability, Accused, Belief, Bible, Forgiveness, Justice, Love, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Wrath

SHOT ACROSS THE BOW 

NAHUM 1:2 

“A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.” 

I love an old warship movie. Watching two goliaths battle it out on the open sea is incredible. Some of the battles the French and English had were historic. They would come up broadside to each other and let the canons roar. One or both ships were probably going down. One may limp away but would be seriously damaged. There were no warning shots across the bow. 

Nahum lets loose with all the canons. God is jealous and avenging. He is avenging and wrathful. He takes vengeance on His enemies. He gives wrath to His enemies. Wow! There was no doubt that Nineveh was in trouble this time. No more Mr. Nice Guy. They had their chance and blew it. 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad our God and Father does not treat us that way? I would be a “dead duck.” No! Our God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. He cares for the wounded and bleeding. He reaches down and brings us up through the healing power of the blood. 

Don’t get me wrong. If you are not a believer, God is wrathful. He will hold you accountable for your sins. But He has given a warning shot across the bow of your life. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you. He is offering you a way of escape from the wrath to come for all unbelievers. 

I am so thankful God gave me that warning shot. I am thankful He pulled me into His family and made me whole. I am so, so thankful for His Word which guides me daily. I do not have to worry about God’s wrath. I have His peace. Do you? 

Father, I know You demand justice. But Hallelujah! You rescued me that day and gave me a new lease on life. 

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Bible, Confession, Forgetting, Forgiveness, Redemption, Scripture, Seeking

THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA 

MICAH 7:19 

“He will again take pity on us; He will trample on our wrongdoings. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” 

I went fishing recently on lake in Burundi. Well, it wasn’t a serious fishing trip. There were five Burindians and me on a boat with one makeshift pole. (There has to be a joke there) This lake is deep, very deep. We didn’t have the right equipment to fish that deep. We could not catch the fish we wanted. We could not retrieve the fish. 

Micah reminds us today that God forgives our sins (He will trample on our wrongdoings). And then He “cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” You have got to get the picture here. God completely gets rid of our sins. It is us who remember them. We need to trust His actions. 

APPLICATION 

Why do we keep bringing up our past sins? Why do we do the same to others? If we truly repent of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Do you believe that? Then stop bringing up the past. If you have turned away from the way of the flesh to the way of the Spirit, God will remove those sins. Now, you know if you are a believer, all your sins, past, present and future, are under the blood of Christ. We still need to confess those sins and allow the Lord to remove them. 

I am so thankful that Jesus has set me free from the bondage of sin. I strive daily to live to honor Him. But I am flesh and blood and can slip and sin. I am so thankful to know that I can come to my Lord and receive forgiveness. So can you. Confess those sins today and walk in freedom. 

I don’t know how deep that sea is, but I am sure it is too deep to retrieve those sins. Thank You, Lord. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Fruit, Obedience, Redemption, Scripture

THE FRUIT WE BEAR 

MICAH 7:13 

“And the earth will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants, on account of the fruit of their deeds.” 

I am almost sixty-two years old, and I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Fortunately, most of them were small and did no harm. Others, however, have left lasting impressions on me and others. I am forgiven and loved by my Savior, but I know that not all the fruit that I have put forth has been good. 

Micah switches from a positive thought in verse 12 to a rather negative one here in verse 13. The fruit of their deeds, their sins against God will cause their land to be a wasteland, to be desolate. In fact, to this day, because of their rejection of Christ, the land of Israel is spiritually desolate, without hope as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

What fruit are you bearing? Well Carl, I think I am doing pretty well. I think my fruit tastes good. Would you make jam with it? Are the deeds you perform for the sake of Christ done out of love for Him or simply out of “duty”? What is your motivation for service? These are questions we should all ask ourselves daily. We should strive to produce only the fruit that gives the glory to God. 

I am reminded of John 15, the chapter that talks about the vine and the branch and the fruit. Verse 8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” All glory must go to Him, not us. Any applause we receive for a deed well done must be redirected to Him. 

When I travel and speak, preach or teach others, I often am thanked and told how much they appreciate it. I feel almost embarrassed because that is not my motivation. My motive is to give Him glory. I want to point others to Jesus, to whom all praise is due. Amen? As you do for Him, point to Him. 

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

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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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Bible, Destruction, Redemption, Restoration, Scripture, Trials

DEMOLITION

MICAH 5:11

“‘I will also eliminate the cities of your land and tear down all your fortifications.’”

Some years ago, in a town where I lived, there was a restaurant that had a rat problem. They trapped them, fumigated them and tried every conceivable method to get rid of those rats. Nothing worked. They eventually had to tear down the restaurant, find the underground nest and exterminate them. Then they rebuilt the restaurant which is still standing today.

God says here in verse 11 of Micah 5 that He is going to tear down the cities and their walls. You need to understand something about this. Cities and walls represented a place of evil and rebellion. That is where the idolatry ran rampant. God had already told the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Sometimes God has to tear down in order to build back up.

APPLICATION 

Let me ask you something. What areas in your life need demolition? Is there a part of your daily living that must be completely torn down so you can grow in Christ? I will not name anything here. You know what you must give up. Those walls and structures in my life have changed over the years. Now, I battle the issues of time and energy.

We all have stuff in our lives that need to be tossed out. When we moved to our current home back in 2014, we threw away or gave away about three pickup trucks full of stuff we had collected over the years. It was time to discard, to downsize, to purge. Why had we held on to these things so long?

When we allow the Lord to destroy all those things that keep us back from being fully immersed in Christ, He can build something beautiful. We cannot see that until we do the demolition. Take a moment today to look at your life. What do you have in it right now that is coming between you and your growth in the Lord? Will you lay it down?

Lord, bring in Your bulldozer and level anything in my life that is in the way of Your perfect architecture.

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Angels, Belief, Bible, Born, Compassion, Covenant, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Gospel, Hope, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

LABOR PAINS

MICAH 5:3

“Therefore, He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. Then the remainder of His kinsmen will return to the sons of Israel.”

I vividly remember my wife’s labor pains with our first child. She was in labor for quite a while. Her doctor kept her comfortable for as long as possible. When the contractions got closer, he knew it was time to move her to the delivery room. She almost broke my finger squeezing it so hard (note to my male readers: If you are in that position, take off your wedding ring BEFORE she starts squeezing, lol).

“Until the time when she who is in labor has given birth” refers to the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. It is prophesied here. But the prophecy does not stop there. It goes on to say, “the remainder kinsmen will return.” How glorious! God promises redemption after the coming of His Son.

APPLICATION

The long-awaited Savior was born to a virgin. Salvation has come. Why have so many people been blinded to this fact? Why have they spurned this incredible news? I know people who just cannot wrap their heads around the fact that salvation is free and for everyone. They either think they cannot earn it or that it is meant for only certain people.

It is our job to spread the good news of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. We need to tell the whole story. The Christmas story is nice, but it was only the beginning of Christ’s story. Mangers and shepherds, angels and wise men make it a memorable event. But that empty tomb tells it all.

I am so thankful that God told us way back in the Old Testament His plan. It should come of no surprise. I am secure in my faith because of what He did through Jesus. I did nothing to earn it and can do nothing to lose it. My salvation comes from Him. Do you know that today?

Away in a manger…Thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son, promised so long ago.

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Affliction, Belief, Bible, Promises, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

PROMISED REDEMPTION

MICAH 4:10

“‘Writhe and scream, daughter of Zion, like a woman in childbirth; for now you will go out of the city, live in the field, and go to Babylon. There you will be rescued, there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.’”

Knowing there is an end to something gives you hope. I remember going through my chemotherapy sessions. When I knew the date of the last treatment, I had hope of recovering my strength. When I played football in high school, I can recall those horrible drills the coaches put us through. When they yelled, “Last one guys,” we all had hope of the pain ending.

The Lord tells the people they were going to Babylon. But He does not end there. He goes on to say, “There you will be rescued, there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.” Even though they knew they were going to suffer, they also knew a day was coming that would bring redemption.

APPLICATION

How appropriate for us today. While we are on this earth, we will suffer hardships. We are promised that. We live in a sinful, fallen world that looks for ways to make the righteous suffer. But…believers in Christ hold out for their promised deliverance from this world. That may come through physical death through which we enter eternity with our Savior. It may come when we are caught up with Him in the air. Either way – we are fully redeemed.

Our goal is to share that good news with as many people as we can while we are here. Those who are suffering without Christ have no hope of redemption. We have that hope to share with them. Don’t you want those you know who are without Christ to join you in eternity?

I love that old hymn, “Redeemed.” The chorus goes like this:

Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed, redeemed His child and forever I am.

Are you going to join me?

For my redemption I shall be forever grateful. Though I do not deserve it, You give it still.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Redemption, Restoration, Scripture

COME UNTO ME

MICAH 4:6

“‘On that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will assemble those who limp and gather the scattered, those whom I have afflicted.’”

I have several friends who work in the medical field. Some are doctors and others are nurses, nurse practitioners or medical assistants. No matter their role, they are all there to care for their patients the best they can. I am fortunate to know these individuals, but more importantly to know they are motivated by the love of Christ to do what they do.

The Lord said through Micah that He would bring back to Him those who have been made lame and those who have been scattered. Those whom He punished will be restored. He will bring them home. He will renew His covenant with them and show them the love of a Father.

APPLICATION

I cannot help but remember the times I had to discipline my children as they were growing up. Disciplining them did not reduce my love for them. It was, in fact, an act of love. Now, they did not understand that at the time. They did not appreciate the old adage “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”

I tried each time I had to discipline them to also talk about why I had to do it. Prayer was often a part of that time. My one goal in discipline was to restore them back into a relationship that had been affected by their disobedience. Their willful decisions to disobey me or their mom had to be addressed.

I am so thankful God does the same. I know He loves me, but I do not like the discipline He gives me. In fact, the author of Hebrews says that in Hebrews 12:11. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it will produce righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it.” That says it pretty plainly, doesn’t it?

Thank You, Lord, for loving me enough to discipline me. Help me to receive it as it is intended.

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Abiding, Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture, Sin

SIN TRAVELS 

MICAH 1:9 

“For her wound is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has reached the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” 

It is unfortunate, but our sin does not just affect us. It has the nasty side effect of infecting other people. I can remember “leaking” my sin on others. Before I came to Christ, my lifestyle was not good. I led others into the same sins I was committing. For that I am forever sorry. I have spoken to most, if not all, of those individuals and asked them to forgive me. 

Israel’s sins made the journey to Judah. They were influenced by their pagan worship. They, in fact, welcomed it. So, now the punishment that was going to fall on Israel would also come upon Judah. Sin is always followed by judgment. It may not happen right away, but it will come. 

APPLICATION 

It just makes sense to not spread your sin. Better yet, just don’t sin. Right? Well, that’s easier said than done, Carl. Oh, how I know. I try every day to avoid sin, but it always seems to find me. It just jumps on me. I am like a sin magnet. My heart is to avoid it and run to God. Most of the time I am successful doing that. But there are times… 

So, when your sin travels down the road and affects someone else, what do you do? One – you ask the Lord to forgive you. Two – you ask the person you affected with your sin to forgive you. Three – you put things into place to help you avoid that situation again. 

We may not be able to avoid all sin, but we can sure do our part to put barriers in front of it. I truly believe we can live lives that honor our Lord without the guilt of sin. If we are seeking Him with all our hearts and spending time with Him each day, the Holy Spirit will lead us in godly living, not sinful behavior. What barriers do you need to build today to protect yourself from that? 

O Lord, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit convicts and guides me. Help me to listen quickly. 

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Evil, Forgiveness, Grace, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

WRONGDOINGS

MICAH 1:5

“All this is due to the wrongdoing of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel. What is the wrongdoing of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?

I have to admit something to you today. Are you ready? I am not perfect. I know, you are shocked and will probably never read my blog again. Lol. We are all imperfect and prone to sin. My wrongdoings are the result of my own rebellious acts against a holy God. In fact, that Hebrew word for “wrongdoing” in today’s verse means exactly that – rebellion, rebellious act.

Israel and Judah had rebelled against God. Samaria, the capital of Israel set up by Jeroboam, was the center of their idolatry. Horrible things had happened there due to their pagan sacrifices. Jerusalem was not much better. As the capital of Judah and the original center of all Israel, it should have maintained God’s laws. It did not. The kings had allowed pagan worship in their holy city, even in the temple itself.

APPLICATION

What have you allowed in the center of your life? Our wrongdoings stem from allowing sin to enter our life and take root. We invite them in purposely or sometimes by accident. Either way, sin enters and before you know it, you are knee deep in sinful behavior.

I mentor men who have an addiction to pornography. That sin did not just happen. It began at some point by being exposed to it. That may have been their own choice, or it could have been done by someone else. This “wrongdoing” is hard to shake. It gets all kind of reactions from people, but it is no worse than other “wrongdoings.”

I pray today that if you have allowed a “wrongdoing” in your life, you will repent of it. Our rebellion against our Lord will not go away until we confess it as sin, turn from it and walk with the Lord. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Aren’t you glad that is true today? I sure am.

O God, Savior of mankind, I praise You today for the forgiveness You offer me for my wrongdoings.

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