Attention, Boasting, Commands, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

REVEALED

JONAH 1:9

“So he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’”

I met with a young man recently for the first time. We had only briefly met earlier at a local restaurant, so I did not know anything about him. When we met, I asked him to share his background with me. Why? So, I could get to know him a little better. I needed to understand where he had come from.

After lots were cast and Jonah had been questioned by the sailors as to who he was, Jonah finally begins to reveal himself to them. He said, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and dry land.” In other words, Jonah was saying he knew who was behind this storm. That was not welcomed news.

APPLICATION

Have you been revealed? Do others know anything about you. After my new friend shared his background with me recently, I felt like I knew him better. I understood where he was coming from. With that information, I could help direct him in the right direction, perhaps.

Revealing ourselves is difficult. It is especially dangerous when we aren’t sure how we will be affected. We open ourselves up to ridicule and shame. But we have to remember that Jesus revealed Himself even though He knew what the result would be. No one has ever revealed themselves as clearly as Christ.

I am pretty picky as to whom I reveal myself. Trust is not something I give away easily. It has to be earned. That can be earned quickly, as with this new friend I just made. Or it may take some time. But revealing myself is something I must do. That draws others to Jesus. Would you reveal yourself to someone today and share how the Lord has led you?

I am forever grateful, Lord, for You revealing Yourself to me. Help me to do the same for others.

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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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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Hope, Judgment, Listening, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture

ANSWERED PRAYER

AMOS 7:6

“The LORD relented of this. ‘This too shall not be,’ said the Lord GOD.”

How do you see God answering prayers? I have seen Him answer them in all kinds of ways. I have seen people healed from illnesses. I have seen people come to Christ. I have even seen storms diverted. I know my God still answers prayers, even if I don’t always like the answer.

We saw this same action by God back in verse 3. God changed His mind then and changed it again here. He heard Amos cry out for Israel and withheld His hand of judgment again. What does this show about the Lord? I believe it shows He listens to us, even if we repeat ourselves. I believe it shows God’s mercy, even when we deserve judgment.

APPLICATION

God answered Amos’s prayers the same way. He withheld the planned and current judgment. He may answer your prayers in the same way. Then again, He may decide to answer it in a whole different way. The Lord knows what is best for us even when we don’t. We may think we know how we want Him to answer. We just don’t see what lies ahead.

I have prayed for healing for my children, protection on the road and even for our pets. There is really nothing I haven’t prayed for. In my years as a Pastor, I prayed for all kinds of family needs. What a joy to see so many of those prayers answered.

But the most joyous answered prayers are the ones for salvation. When I have the privilege to pray with someone as they accept Christ as their Savior, my heart overflows. That’s a prayer with eternal value. That’s a prayer that will last forever. I praise Him for hearing us and answering according to His Will for our lives and the lives of others.

I know You are still listening, Lord. I know You are working even now to answer my prayers.

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Abiding, Beauty, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Creation, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Relationships, Scripture

WHAT’S YOUR NAME

AMOS 4:13

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, and declares to a person what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of armies is His name.”

Throughout my over four decades of ministry, I have sought to learn the names of the children I was serving. There is something about being called by your name. But I have had to develop some tricks to help me. I have used acrostics to memorize the names of multiple children in a family. I have used hair color or a birthmark to help. There was usually something about the child that I could remember that would trigger the name.

God tells us who He is in is verse before He tells us His name. Look at what He does. He forms the mountains and creates the wind. That’s pretty powerful. He knows our thoughts. That’s a little scary, right? He controls the sunlight and walks on mountaintops. Then He says, “the LORD God of armies is His name.” In other words, He is in charge! Period!

APPLICATION

While all these attributes might be terrifying, I find comfort in them. If God can do all that, He can certainly handle my little problems. The LORD God of armies cares enough about little, ole me to hear my prayers and dry my tears. The LORD God of armies loves me enough to send His own Son to rescue me from an eternal damnation.

No matter how little I may feel, He still reaches down with His powerful right hand and scoops me up to safety. In fact, He will send those armies of His to my rescue. I am His child, and He will protect me. Even when He is busy forming mountains and creating wind, I am on His mind. That’s mind boggling.

I am so thankful that my God is not too big for me. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. God, of course, is big. He is too big for my mind. But He isn’t too big that He forgets about me. In fact, He wants to hear from me every day. He wants to hear from you, too. Talk to Him. Tell Him your needs. I promise He can fit you in.

O God of the universe, I praise You for looking on me. I know You are forever mindful of my needs and desires.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Encouragement, Fire, Friends, Relationships, Scripture

LOG FIRE

AMOS 4:11

“‘I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a log snatched from a fire; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

There’s a simple rule about log fires. They burn much longer when there is more than one log on the fire. I guess you could call that fire synergy. The combined heat and fire of all the logs is much more than the heat and fire of the individual logs added together. Confused?

God uses this analogy in today’s verse. A log snatched from a fire will soon go out. It will quit burning. Israel had lost its fire. It refused to return to the Lord and was overthrown – just like Sodom and Gomorrah, two wicked cities destroyed by God with hellfire and brimstone during the days of Lot.

APPLICATION

If you are trying to “burn your fire” all alone, it won’t last long. We are made to do life alone. First of all, you need the Lord in your life to give you direction and purpose. Secondly, you need other believers to encourage you and help you along. You need those other “logs” in your life to keep your fire going.

I pray you have other “logs” in your life right now. If you don’t, you need to find some. Get in a church where you can be loved on and supported. Find a group of fellow believers with whom you can do life. Their fires will help fuel your fires, and together you can build a bonfire for the Lord.

I have said it before, but I need others in my life. I need other men to hold me accountable. I need friends with whom I can share my needs and hurts. God has made us this way. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Ask Him today to put others in your life. Don’t be a log snatched from the fire, slowly burning out and losing its flame.

I want to burn brightly for You, O Lord. I know to do that I need others in my life who can help me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Modeling, Relationships

LEAVEN

AMOS 4:5

“‘Offer a thanksgiving offering also from that which is leavened, and proclaim voluntary offerings, make them known. For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD.”

I have been guilty of coming to the Lord with guilty hands. I went through all the motions and appeared from the outside to be doing all the right things. It’s easy to fool others in the church. As long as you attend regularly, give your offering and serve somewhere, people think you are living holy. That is not necessarily true.

Just look at the Israelites. They were offering their sacrifices and making them known. From the outside they appeared to be doing it right. But look closely. They were offering leavened bread in their sacrifices which was clearly forbidden. In Leviticus 2:11 it says, “‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.’” You see, they knew that but did what was convenient to them.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never been guilty of that. Of course not, Carl. I am always living right. Yeah, right. We all pretend, don’t we? We don’t want others knowing we are struggling in our faith. We don’t want our friends, especially at church, to know we aren’t living right.

But those are exactly the right people to turn to. If you are not in a small group right now, find one. You need people in your life to whom you can pour out your heart. We all need others in our life to hold us accountable. Doing life with others is what Christ wants for us.

My wife and I are in a small group at church with two other couples. These couples are dear friends to us. We can share just about anything with them. But there is the problem. We should be able to share everything with them. Right? Would you pray for us that we could all share everything, knowing that we have these people in our lives who love us and want what is best for us.

Thank You, Lord, that You hold me to a higher standard. I must live holy before You and offer only the best I have to You.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Gentleness, Intimacy, Obedience, Relationships

WALKING WITH GOD

Amos 3:3

“Do two people walk together unless they have agreed to meet?”

I was sixteen years old when I started my walk with Christ. I had been in church all my life, but I had never surrendered my life to Him. I did all the church stuff, including singing in the choir and going on church trips. But I did not know Jesus until I gave my whole self to Him and saw myself as a sinner. My walk began July 31, 1977 and has not stopped since then. There have been some bumps in the road, but He has been faithful.

Amos begins a series of parables in verse 3 today. Each one has a message for Israel. This first one speaks of walking with someone. Israel had not been walking with God for quite some time. The parable says that both have to agree. That was the problem. Israel didn’t agree. God was ready to walk with them, but they had shunned Him and disobeyed Him. God could not walk with them like that.

APPLICATION

How’s your walk? Are you running away from God or ahead of Him? Either is bad. Maybe you are refusing to move and are stuck in some sin. I don’t know about you, but when I walk with my wife I like to hold her hand. We don’t do that much right now because of my feet. But walking hand in hand is special to me. God wants to walk with you that way. He desires that closeness.

Are you holding His hand as you walk with Him? Do you want that intimacy? I do. I want to walk with Him feeling His hand in mine. Now, I know that is not physically possible, but it is spiritually. Holding hands requires closeness. Get close to Him. Read His Word. Pray to Him. Spend time with Him. You won’t regret it. His walks are exhilarating.

I mentioned my walk has had some bumps. But God never let go of my hand. He kept picking me up and dusting me off. He put me back on the right path. My walk with Christ has improved over the years. It’s still not perfect. I still stumble. But I have learned to hold tight to my Master’s hand. I trust Him completely. I pray you can as well. Hold tight.

O Jesus, thank You for holding my hand. Thank You for being right beside me all the time.

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Promises, Relationships, Suffering, Widows

WIDOWED

JOEL 1:8

“Wail like a virgin clothed with sackcloth for the groom of her youth.”

My brother died recently, leaving behind his wife of 35 years. She has been grieving over this loss. They were very close and spent most of their time together. I have been watching her these past few weeks as she processes this loss and reimagines her life without my brother. It’s hard. Losses are difficult. But I know through the Lord’s strength, she will endure.

Joel is comparing the loss of the Lord to Judah to a wife losing her husband. The Hebrew word here for “virgin” is better translated “young woman.” Joel is picturing her being robbed of her husband through death, perhaps having been killed in battle. Sudden, unexplained death is hard. Judah had lost its first love, Jehovah, and was now mourning that loss.

APPLICATION

As followers of Christ, we will never suffer that loss. We will never lose our Savior. He is ours forever. We may drift away or fail to walk as closely as we should, but we will never lose Him. That’s the beauty of the Christian walk. We have been sealed with the promise. The Holy Spirit seals us until we are delivered to glory.

Some don’t believe that. Some believe we can lose that seal. I am not going to debate theology here. I simply choose to believe what the Word tells me. Knowing I am sealed forever does not give me license to do as I please. In fact, knowing that gives me joy inexpressible and the joy to please Him in all I do. I am eternally thankful.

We will all suffer losses in our life. We will lose loved ones to the grave. But, if they are one with us in Christ, we will be reunited one day. My sister-in-law and brother will see each other again one day. It will be a glorious reunion. We will see Jesus one day also. Can you imagine? Hallelujah, praise His name!

I am eternally thankful for the promises You give, Lord. I rest secure in those promises.

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