Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin, Surrender

HOPELESS

NAHUM 2:1

“The one who scatters has come up against you. Keep watch over the fortress, watch the road; bind up your waist, summon all your strength.

When you come up against a force that is greater than you, all your defenses are worthless. I played high school football many years ago. I remember vividly playing against a high school from Alabama that was far superior to our small, rural high school. We were overmatched from the start and despite our great efforts, we were trounced.

Nahum turns his attention fully now to Nineveh and its pending destruction. He almost jokingly tells how they can watch the road and bind up their waist. They can summon all their strength, but nothing will prevent God’s judgment falling upon them. They will not be able to resist His power.

APPLICATION

We read this prophecy against Nineveh and point our fingers at them. We think how could they even hope to defend themselves against God. But we do the same. We fight against God daily defending our own actions that we know are not what God desires. But because we think we have the right; we just do it.

There is nothing that gives us the right to do as we want. We are free in Christ to do as we should. That is a big difference. We are just like Nineveh in so many ways. We put up our defenses. These are useless against a holy God. The best thing we can do is surrender and agree with God about our sins.

Confession is just that – saying the same thing about our sin as God is saying. We agree with Him. The problem today in our society is nothing is sin. Sin is an outdated word. To say someone is sinful is being intolerant. God’s standards have not changed. Neither has the way He deals with sin. Confess your sins today and feel His mercy and grace.

Forgive me, Lord. I have sinned against You and Your principles.

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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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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Repentance, Scripture

A HEAVY BURDEN 

NAHUM 1:1 

“The pronouncement of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite:” 

Sometimes you have to deliver a message that is hard and painful for someone else to hear. I will always remember having to tell a young teen girl that her father, her only living parent, had just died. I can still hear her cries of agony. I have delivered similar messages since then, and it has never gotten easy. 

The Hebrew word translated here for “pronouncement” is a heavy word. It sets the stage for what is about to follow. Nahum (whose name means comforter) is not delivering an encouraging message. He is dealing with a Nineveh that has returned to the sins it had repented of when Jonah prophesied to them. God’s mercy will not be the theme of Nahum’s message. 

APPLICATION 

I pray you are not a Nineveh. I pray you are not someone who repents of a sin and then returns to it. I have heard stories of meth addicts who would spend a year in lockup, get clean and upon their release, go right back to the meth. God does not play games with us regarding our confession of sin. He expects, no, He demands a change in behavior. 

You may be saying, “Well Carl, I don’t have that problem. I am squeaky clean.” Oh really? 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Listen, we all have sins. God knows we are not perfect. But He does not want us repeating and repeating the same sins. We have to break those strongholds. 

I am thankful the Lord has given me the Holy Spirit who convicts me of my sins. I am thankful that the more I study and memorize His Word, the less I want to sin. Sin is not a lure to me. The Spirit is so much stronger. Will you truly repent today of any sin(s) you have been holding on to? 

Father, You are so good to forgive me. Help me to live to honor that forgiveness. 

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Accountability, Accused, Advocate, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, God's Will, Holiness, Idols, Judgment, Listening, Repentance, Scripture

NO ANSWER

MICAH 3:7

“The seers will be put to shame, and the diviners will be ashamed. Indeed, they will all cover their lips because there is no answer from God.”

You may not remember the days when you called someone on their phone and did not get an answer. This was the days before voicemail or answering machines. You could not leave a message. You just had to keep calling back until you reached them. I wish sometimes that was still the case. Lol

The false prophets (called seers and diviners here) could not hear God speak to them. Why? Because they were not seeking Him. They were living lives that were displeasing to God, so He had shut His mouth. He was not delivering any messages to them. They cried out only because He was delivering His judgment. How sad that they could not have surrendered to His Will, which would have opened up that line of communication again.

APPLICATION

Oh, brothers and sisters, before we cast too many stones at these false prophets, don’t we do the same? We live our lives as we wish and then when we get into trouble and call on God, He is quiet. We get perturbed with Him because He did not answer us. How dare He?

Well…God demands holiness from us. That’s right. He expects us to live according to His laws and commands. He does not expect perfection, but He does want us to strive to be more like Him and less like the world. If we want God to speak, we must stop, repent and listen.

This week there has been a verse on my mind a lot. Psalm 84:11 says, “The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Did you get that? No good thing does He withhold. But there is a condition – from those who walk uprightly. So, my question to you is – are you walking uprightly today?

O Lord, I do not want to be like one of those false prophets who could not hear Your voice. Speak to me Lord!

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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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Advice, Belief, Bible, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

GOING EAST

JONAH 4:5

“Then Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade, until he could see what would happen in the city.”

I know people who are directionally challenged. They could not tell you which way was east if their life depended on it. On a recent trip I made to Albania, I got out my trusty phone compass to identify which direction east was so I could watch for the next morning’s sunrise. I had made a lot of turns that day and was a bit confused on the direction. I like that little compass.

In Scripture, going east is used to show men moving away from God. Going east represents the world. Going west represents holiness. Jonah went east (away from God). He had probably waited the forty days of his prophecy and then went out to see what would happen. He still seemed to have hope that God would strike Nineveh for their sins, even though they had repented.

APPLICATION

What direction are you going? East or west? Are you moving away from God or towards Him? Let me tell you something. Going east does not solve anything. We need to always be moving west towards God. Now, I do not mean we need to literally move west. I am speaking symbolically here.

Many times, something bad happens and we withdraw from God. We do not understand His actions or lack of action. For instance, the recent school shooting in Texas has people both crying out to God and blaming God. God did not cause that shooting. Get that out of your head. God has no part of evil. But evil exists in this world. We must cling to God in the presence of evil and trust Him to get us through these kinds of tragedies.

I choose west. I choose to move towards God, no matter the ramifications. I know I can trust Him. I know He knows what is best for me. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust Him. Will you join me on my westward journey?

I will move towards You, Lord. Westward I will go!

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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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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Gospel, Judgment, Listening, Obedience, Repentance

REPENT

JONAH 1:2

“Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Many years ago, while moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, I was following my wife through the hills of northern Alabama. She had our infant daughter in the car with her, while I was following in the moving truck with our four-year-old son. She was falling asleep and weaving all over the road. In the truck I could not get her attention by flashing my lights or honking my horn. I just knew I was going to watch her drive off the road and down the hill. I was trying to save her, but she wouldn’t listen. (She did finally wake up).

God tells Jonah to go tell the Ninevites how to get saved. He was sending Jonah on a specific mission to a specific people. God had seen “their wickedness” and decided it was time to take action. He wanted to give them the chance to be forgiven and come to Him.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to get someone’s attention about God? Some people are like my wife in that car. They can’t seem to hear the cries from God for them to come to Him. They are locked on to their own path and nothing is going to deter them. They don’t even know they are about to drive off a cliff.

Others God knows are just ripe for the harvest. He has already prepared their hearts. That’s why sometimes it is so easy to lead someone to Christ. They are like the Ninevites – eager to know the truth.

Boy, I am so glad I heard the words of the Lord. I am thankful He has caused me to turn towards Him and receive salvation. I am trying to be more mindful of those opportunities to share the Gospel. I’m not judged by their response. I am judged by God only by my decision to be obedient. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving me and giving the opportunity to share with others.

Check out our ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Consequences, Encouragement, Godliness, Hiding, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

HIGH OR LOW

AMOS 9:3

“And though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will track them down and take them from there; and though they hide themselves from My sight on the bottom of the sea, I will command the serpent from there, and it will bite them.”

How good are you at hiding? I was never really good at it. I would climb a tree or hide in the bushes, only to be spotted pretty quickly. I have known people who were good at it. They could seemingly disappear. I have to admit that I was a little jealous of them at times.

Amos continues the Lord’s words declaring that there is no place to hide from Him. This time he uses two examples that were actually attainable – Mt. Carmel and the ocean. Mt. Carmel was riddled with caves, perhaps up to 2,000. Elijah may have hidden in one of those caves. The ocean is not a good hiding place, Amos says, because of the venomous serpents that lived there. There are certainly snakes that live in the ocean that can bite you. Once again, there is no place to hide, high or low.

APPLICATION

Why are you still hiding? Why don’t you approach God right now and confess those sins that threaten to entangle you? We run and hide and pretend the problems don’t exist. We turn our heads when confronted about our sins. We don’t want to be “judged” by others.

Listen beloved, we will all be judged one day. Unbelievers will be judged and found lacking because of the absence of Christ’s blood in their lives. We believers will be judged on the works we have or have not done in the name of Christ. Judgment is sure. There is no escaping it. The difference for us who are in Christ is that our judgment won’t determine where we spend eternity. That was decided at the cross when we surrendered.

But, if you are like me, I don’t live each day surrendered to the Spirit. That’s my desire and it’s what I try to do. But there are days when I just blow it. However, I have learned to go to the throne of God quickly and confess those things. I want to live a godly life that points to Jesus. How about you?

Father, You are amazing! Nothing escapes Your eyes. You see all and know all.

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