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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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Cheates, Commands, Consequences, Deceit, Deception, Double-minded, Forgiveness, Greed, Holy Spirit, Lying, Repentance, Scripture

CHEATERS

AMOS 8:5

“saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain; and the Sabbath, so that we may open the wheat market, to make the ephah smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales,’”

Everyone hates a cheater (well, most everyone). Don’t you hate it when you buy something only to find out it’s not as advertised? Just watch some late-night television to see some of those ads. A cheater only wants to line their pockets with ill gotten gain, with no regard to the person they have cheated.

Amos warns the Israelites of this practice in today’s verse. He describes them to the last detail. They kept the festivals and the Sabbath, but only in practice. Their hearts were far from God. Look what they did. They made their ephah a little smaller and their money the wrong weight. Even though they were warned about this in the Torah (Dy 25:13-15), they still did it.

APPLICATION

Why would you ever think about cheating someone? When I was young, my dad’s sister sold a house that my dad and uncle owned to their mother without his knowledge. She was getting house payments from her mother and stepfather for something she didn’t own. She cheated my dad, and it caused a rift between them for years. They did finally make up, but it took many years.

Now, my dad wasn’t a believer back then. He didn’t have the Holy Spirit to guide him toward reconciliation. I am not sure about my aunt. I never had the chance to ask her about her salvation. I pray she knew Jesus. My point is this – if we know the Lord, we won’t cheat others, and we will forgive those who cheat us.

Hmmm, that sounds very familiar. How about this verse? Matthew 6:12 “‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’” That’s what Jesus taught us in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Have you done that today? Ask Him.

O Father, forgive me. I fall so short of Your commandments.”

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Accountability, Bible, Consequences, Encouragement, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Repentance

HUSH

AMOS 8:3

“‘The songs of the palace will turn to wailing on that day,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘The corpses will be many; in every place they will throw them out. Hush!’”

I can remember as a child when I was crying that my mama would often say, “Hush now. Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay.” A mom’s soothing words did wonders. My tears would dry up. Then we would talk about why I was crying. She may not have been able to solve the problem, but she listened.

That is not the case here. God is saying, “Hush!” He was quieting their wailing. The deaths of their loved ones could have been prevented. If only Israel had listened and obeyed, this judgment would not have fallen. So, these tears needed to be stopped.

APPLICATION

Is God telling us to dry it up? I don’t think so. But this verse should remind us of the dangers of disobedience. When we bring on ourselves the consequences of sin, we have to acknowledge that. Once we come to the Lord in repentance, He is always there to wipe away our tears and show us another way.

But too many of us remain in our sin, suffering the consequences, and cry because God is not rescuing us. He won’t do that until we come to Him in repentance. God is not going to enable you in your sin. He is not going to condone your sins. But He is quick to forgive when you come to Him.

I am so thankful for forgiveness. I am thankful for conviction from the Holy Spirit. I am thankful for fresh starts. I don’t know about you, but I mess up a lot. I say things that hurt those I love, and I make decisions that I know aren’t the best. But God is there – always – to remind me of who He is and whose I am.

I praise You, Father, for hearing my cries and forgiving me. I want to please You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Destruction, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Modeling, Repentance, Scripture

DEMOLITION

AMOS 6:11

“For behold, the LORD is going to command that the great house be smashed to pieces, and the small house to rubble.”

I can demolish a building as fast as anyone. Taking a sledgehammer and tearing down a cabinet is invigorating, lol. Ripping up an old carpet is rewarding. Demolition has to happen before new construction can begin. It all has a purpose.

Amos tells us in today’s verse that the Lord didn’t discriminate between the wealthy and the poor when it came to judgment. A rich sinner and a poor sinner were treated the same. It did not matter who you were. If you were living disobediently, you were going to be held accountable by God.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad God treats us all the same? I am reminded, though, of Psalm 103:10 where the Psalmist says, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our guilty deeds.” Thank goodness. I wouldn’t stand a chance.

God loves us enough to call us on our sin. His Holy Spirit, who indwells us at salvation, convicts us and leads us to the throne of grace. If you are a believer, you cannot remain in your sinful state long. The Holy Spirit doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, He will take the sledgehammer to you.

I want that accountability. I want to be reminded who I belong to. I need that. I know I could never repay the Lord for what He has done for me. I will try to live each day to honor Him and lead others to Him. How about you?

Lord, thank You for convicting me when I fall short. Sometimes I am blind to my sin and need reminding who I represent.

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DESTRUCTION

AMOS 5:9

It is He who makes destruction flash upon the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress.”

If you have ever seen a house demolished, you can understand the Hebrew word used here for “destruction.” There is no way to demolish a house without using some pretty, violent actions. For instance, if a large piece of equipment is used, they will probably just smash and flatten the house and then haul the pieces away. Smash, pound, grind!

Amos says here that the Lord will do the same to the strong and to the fortress. You would think the strong and a fortress could put up a better fight than that. But not against the Creator of the universe. His power is beyond comprehension. When He destroys something, it is pulverized. Nothing can stand up to His fist of judgment.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us today? Is God trying to destroy us? Of course, not. But He will humble the proud. He will allow things to come into our lives to bring us down to a level where we can listen to Him. We can build up walls (fortresses) in our lives to try to repel God. We think we can handle things on our own.

Instead of risking those wrecking balls that knock the wind out of you, how about taking down those walls yourself? Ask the Lord to reveal to you the walls of self-sufficiency in your life. Once you have identified them, start taking them down brick by brick.

When I was a little boy, my dad had me help take down a brick wall. I forget now where it was, but he was adamant about salvaging those brick. So, we did it gently, preserving most of the brick. Then he had me chip off the mortar and stack those brick. Later on, he used those salvaged brick to build a backyard sink and fish cleaning table. Why am I telling you that story? Your walls that you tear down may very well be used by God in your life for another purpose. Just watch what He does with them.

Father, thank You for tearing down my walls that I put up. I want to be used by you however You see fit.

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CLEAN TEETH

AMOS 4:6

“‘But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I honestly do not like getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. I don’t mind brushing my teeth and even occasionally flossing them (not really, lol). But the twice-a-year cleanings are not something I look forward to. My hygienist is great, and my dentist is too. It’s just the scraping (and flossing) are not fun.

God was not giving the Israelites a teeth cleaning like I get. He had punished them through withholding food in an attempt to get them to return to Him. Your teeth don’t get too dirty when there is nothing to eat. But this didn’t work with them. They were so tied to their sinful ways that even that did not bring them back.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord done in your life in an attempt to bring you back to Him? Think hard about that. God will allow things in our life to draw us back. Some of those things are not pleasant. He may allow sickness. He may allow a loss of a job. Listen, there is nothing that God will not do to bring us back once we have strayed.

But what He won’t do is force us back. We have to return on our own. We have to choose to come back to Him with a repentant spirit. We have to acknowledge our sin and confess it to Him. He needs to see that we want to be up under His guidance once again.

I can speak from experience on this one. Unfortunately, I have not always followed the Lord as I should. I have made some huge, wrong decisions in my life that led me on a wayward path. But thanks be to God, He never quit pursuing me. His Holy Spirit kept prompting me and convicting me until I repented and returned. I got tired of clean spiritual teeth. I needed meat to eat. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for pursuing me. Thank You for drawing me back into Your embrace.

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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.

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