Accountability, Bible, Flesh, Judgment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender, Trials, Wickedness

SODOM AND GOMORRAH

ZEPHANIAH 2:9

“‘Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of armies, the God of Israel, ‘Moab will assuredly be like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—ground overgrown with weeds and full of salt mines, and a permanent desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them, and the remainder of My nation will inherit them.’”

Parts of our world are just plain wicked. Sex trade, drugs and prostitution are staples of these places. The darkness that exists can almost be felt on your skin. You can see the lostness in the faces of those who live there. They live with no hope. No, they don’t live. They simply exist. There is no life in them – only death.

When the Lord through Zephaniah compares Moab and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah, the audience knew exactly what he was talking about. The story of those cities is told in Genesis 19. Here are a couple of those verses. “24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”

APPLICATION

2 Peter 2:4-10a gives us a great picture of God’s judgment and also His mercy. For the sake of space, I won’t include all of those verses here. You should take a moment and look that passage up. But the last two verses tell us what the Lord will do.

“9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from a trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt passion, and despise authority.”

We see the rescue and the judgment. God is capable of both. He rescued Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah, but He also judged the wicked in those cities. The same holds true today. God will rescue the godly. If you are living for Him and striving to live godly, God will rescue You in His perfect timing. But if you are living to please the flesh, then….

I am thankful for His Holy Spirit Who guides me each and every day. He warns me of evil. He points out those things that can lead me astray. Now, I still have to make that decision to follow His lead. He won’t force me. But I have learned to trust Him. Have you? Have you learned to lean on the Lord during those times of testing. He is there.

O Lord, it does break my heart to see those who are wandering in darkness. Help me shine the light of Christ on them.

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Deliverance, God's Will, Oppression, Rescue, Scripture

LIVING IN A BOWL

ZEPHANIAH 1:11

“‘Wail, you inhabitants of the Mortar, because all the people of Canaan will be destroyed; all who weigh out silver will be eliminated.’”

The city where I live, Chattanooga, is in a bowl. We sit in this valley fringed by mountains which gives our geographic area a bowl-like appearance. Pollen settles here and makes breathing hard for those with allergies. We do get protected from some storms because of our geography, but at other times, if the weather comes from a southwesterly direction, we can get hit hard.

That is the case here in Zephaniah 1:11. The word “Mortar” is actually referring to the geographical location the people find themselves in. They are trapped in a bowl. Much like drugs are crushed by a pestle inside a mortar, their enemies would crush them in their valley, in their bowl. Judgment is sure.

APPLICATION

You may feel like you are being crushed by life’s circumstances. I know sometimes the pressures of life can be horrible. It seems you are being hit from every side. Can I put all that in perspective for you? Philippians 2:5-8 can do that. “5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. 8 And but being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

Sure, we suffer hardship. But compared to what Jesus has done for us, it is nothing. The sins of the world were on His shoulders. Can we even imagine the pressure He was feeling? And remember, He had not done anything wrong. He had never sinned. Can we say that?

I am thankful for the opportunities He gives me to trust Him. Even when I am in that bowl of affliction and there seems to be no way of escape, He is there. He will sustain me. He will lift up my head. He will deliver me. Praise be to Him.

Yes, Lord, You are the lifter of my head. To You I will look for my deliverance during each trial and hardship.

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Bible, Covenant, Promises, Protection, Relationships, Rescue, Scripture, Security, Strength

MY STRENGTH

HABAKKUK 3:19

“The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like deer’s feet, and has me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.”

Here we are at the last verse of Habakkuk. This verse is one of the most quoted in the book. If you missed the beginning of the look at Habakkuk, go back to the beginning of my blogs on this awesome book. They began on November 2. That means we have spent 56 days looking at each verse of this wonderful message to us.

Habakkuk closes his message with praise to God. He confesses publicly that the Lord God is his strength. He does not place his trust in the armies of Israel or on some foreign power. He knows God is the only source of strength. He brings in the image of the deer climbing up effortlessly to the high places. He says God does the same for him. And that applies to us as well.

When we are at our lowest, the Lord picks us up. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” When we rely on Him, He can lift us up to the high places. He does it effortlessly. It is no strain for Him, but for us, it’s agony.

APPLICATION

My little granddaughter asked me the other day to throw her high. Now, she’s approaching five years old. When she was a toddler, this was an easy ask. I could throw her multiple times to her glee. But now…that’s not so easy. It is hard for me to do that more than twice. Aren’t you grateful that God does not tire of lifting us up. No matter how many times we fall, we can turn to Him and say, “Father, lift me,” and He does.

I have had to call on Him several times in my life. There have been moments when I did not think I could carry on. That weakness may have been emotional, physical or spiritual. Each time He came to my aid. Each time He “made my feet like deer’s feet and has me walk on my high places.” He will do the same for you.

I want to climb to the highest heights, Father. Lift me up to be with You.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Trust

WAVE RIDER

HABAKKUK 3:15

“You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the foam of many waters.”

I love to watch the waves as they crest and then break on the beach. The power in each wave is incredible. I have never personally seen twenty or thirty foot waves, but I know people who have. They tell me they are not only powerful but are also terrifying and destructive. Can’t you just picture that?

Habakkuk paints a portrait in today’s verse of God riding the waves, leading the charge against the enemy. Albert Barnes quotes a couple of other Old Testament verses that give the same picture. Isaiah 63:13 says, “who led them in the depths;” and Zechariah 10:11 reads, “And He shall pass through the sea.” Barnes says, “God was literally there.”

APPLICATION

God is still out front defending us. He is riding the waves in our defense. He will drown our enemies the same way He drowned Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea. What seemed to be an obstacle for the Hebrew children became their way of escape and their source of salvation.

We don’t understand the ways of God. We certainly don’t understand them when we are going through hard times or if our very lives seem to be crumbling. But God is at work, in His time. His timing is always perfect. He is never late. When the time is right, He will ride that wave and wash away our enemies.

I don’t begin to say I understand that. I’ve tried and failed. I have come to the conclusion that I have to just trust Him. I know that sounds too spiritual. But it is the truth. We must come to the point that we simply trust Him who has saved us eternally to save us temporally also. If it His will to rescue us here on earth, praise His name. But if He should choose to rescue us by bringing us home eternally, then so be it. It’s really a win-win now, isn’t it?

Lord, I will watch as You ride the waves in my defense and will praise You if You carry me home.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Choices, Christ's Return, Darkness, Eternity, Kingdom, Kings, Majesty, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

CHARIOTS OF SALVATION

HABAKKUK 3:8

“Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your rage against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?”

All throughout Scripture we see imagery of God with water. In creation, He separated the waters above and the waters below. Then He caused land to appear which further separated the waters on earth. We see Him part the Red Sea and the Jordan River. We see Him gush forth waters from a rock in the wilderness. Water and God have a presence in the Bible that cannot be ignored.

So, it is no wonder that Habakkuk uses that same imagery in his book. But we see something here that is unique. We see the “chariots of salvation.” I can just picture what Habakkuk is describing. God swoops down and rescues His people as if He is riding a chariot. The waters of the Red Sea parting and the flow of Jordan walled up reflect the presence of God moving through and saving His people.

APPLICATION

God is still rescuing us. This is done now through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ didn’t ride through Israel on a chariot. No, He walked and once rode a donkey’s colt. He didn’t come as a ruling king, but rather as a lowly baby in a manger. He lived in Nazareth, the lowliest of the villages in Galilee.

But one day He will return as Judge and King. He will come to reign supremely. And we will reign with Him as joint heirs of His kingdom. Won’t that be a glorious day? But you first have to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Even though you don’t see a chariot of salvation, you can be assured that He reigns.

As we come closer to Christmas day and prepare to celebrate, don’t forget the saving power of God is as strong today as it ever was. God is still rescuing us from a dark and somber world. He wants us to rejoice with Him that His Son paid the ultimate price. He has truly ridden that chariot of salvation for us.

Open my eyes that I may see Your salvation to the world more clearly. Use me to reach out to those who need to hear.

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Advice, Bible, Debt, Payment, Rescue, Scripture, Sin

DECEIT OF DEBTS

HABAKKUK 2:6

“‘Will all of these not take up a song of ridicule against him, even a saying and insinuations against him and say, “Woe to him who increases what is not his—for how long—and makes himself rich with debts!”’”

I really hate debt of any kind. I know it is hard to avoid it, especially when you are buying a home. Most people don’t have that much cash. I am trying to pay off my home as quickly as I can. Debt deceives you into thinking you have more than you really do.

God speaks the first of five “Woes” here. The Hebrew word recorded by Habakkuk for “debts” is only used right here in all the Bible. Some translations translate it as “thick-clay.” It is weighty. It slows you down. Debts are one thing God warns about here.

APPLICATION

Don’t go and say Carl said all debt is bad. I am just saying we need to be careful. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.” That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? Sometimes we cannot avoid debt. Medical bills pile up after a lengthy illness. As I mentioned earlier, buying a home usually requires debt. Just be careful.

But aren’t you thankful that the one debt that we could never repay was paid for by Jesus. You may have heard the saying, “I owed a debt I could not pay, and He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus rescued us from a certain damnation. We could never pay the debt of sin which was on our life.

I am debt free spiritually. I owe nothing to the wrath of God. He is satisfied with the shed blood of His precious Son. There are so many around us who are drowning in debt spiritually. They have no hope. No banker on earth can satisfy that debt – only Jesus. Let’s share with them God’s plan for debt relief.

Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

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Belief, Bible, Helplessness, Rescue, Restoration, Safety, Scripture, Security

HELPLESS

HABAKKUK 1:14

Why have You made people like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler over them?”

Feeling helpless is not fun. When I was going through treatment for my disease (Amyloidosis), I had times when I felt completely helpless. When I was at my sickest and not able to hardly walk, I felt helpless. Honestly, I felt deserted by God. I knew it wasn’t true, but that’s how I felt. It was a low time and not one I wish to repeat.

Habakkuk is expressing a similar feeling in today’s verse. The picture God has shown him of the impending judgment of God on His people leaves him feeling kind of helpless. He compares the people to fish that are swept along by the currents of the sea or bugs that simply wander on the ground. Those are not pretty pictures, but it expresses how he feels. Helpless and wandering.

APPLICATION

We have a choice during these times. We can wallow in our helplessness, or we can turn to the only One who can provide our help. I knew, when I was going through my low point, that God was there. I knew He was holding me. He just wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted Him to move. I wanted God to fix me, but I wanted to dictate how He did that. That’s not how it works.

Psalm 108:6 reads, “So that Your beloved may be rescued, save with Your right hand, and answer me!” God’s hand is always reaching out to us. He can restore us. He can rescue us. He can provide that feeling of safety and security so we can cry out with the Psalmist the words of this verse.

There’s a hymn that says, “But I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” Isn’t that the best feeling? No more helplessness because we know who holds us. He is able to keep us. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

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Abiding, Battles, Bible, Defense, Enemies, Evil, Fortress, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

YOUR RAMPART

NAHUM 3:8

Are you better than No-Amon, which was situated by the canals of the Nile, with water surrounding her, whose rampart was the sea, whose wall consisted of the sea?

I remember as a child building forts with my neighborhood buddies. My best friend was Robert Brooks, and we would play incessantly in his backyard which had this great, big field (at least we thought it was big back then) that went back to the edge of a tract of woods. Oh, the fun we had battling our “enemies” in our forts. We thought we were invincible.

So did Nineveh! They thought they would exist forever. But the high and lofty will fall and so they did. Nahum is referring to the great nation of No-Amon, which was situated in Northern Egypt. This nation ruled the world for a period of time. Their “rampart was the sea.” Their fortress wall on the north was the sea, which they thought protected them. They too fell to an invading nation.

APPLICATION

What is your rampart? Or better yet, who is your rampart? As protected as we think we are, we are no match for the enemy on our own. We need strong walls. We need an army. That is found in the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus promises us that at salvation. He will defend us. No force can touch us without His permission.

I don’t know about you, but I can rest in that. The very one who defeated death and the grave has my back. His power trumps any other power. I recently heard about some Jihadist who were planning an attack on a Christian village. Two days in a row, as they were traveling in their caravan of trucks, they had accidents which prevented them from the attack. God is showing His power today.

Praise to the Father of all armies. Praise to His power and might. Praise Him above all others. We know He is in control. Will you rest in Him today? He is your rampart!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend you!

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Abiding, Allegiance, Battles, Belief, Bible, Courage, Defeat, Enemies, God's Will, Opponents, Promises, Rescue, Scripture

LIONS’ DEN

NAHUM 2:11

“Where is the den of the lions and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, lioness, and lion’s cub went with nothing to disturb them?”

I love going to the zoo. We have a small one here in Chattanooga, TN where I live. Almost any zoo has “the king of the jungle” – the African lion. These beasts are huge. It is hard to really understand how big they are until you see one in person. A full-grown male lion does not have many threats. They rule the jungle or African plain.

That is the analogy Nahum is using in today’s verse. Nineveh had devoured all its enemies. None seemed able to stand against it. So, that is why it is so appalling that Nineveh is so desolate and defeated. Nahum is asking, “Where is the den of lions”? All their fierceness was gone. They were defeated.

APPLICATION

I want you to know that as a child of the King, your enemies will not stand. They will all bow before Him. They may appear to be triumphant right now, but their day will come. You may not see it in your lifetime, but it will come. No enemy of our King will remain.

How do I know that? Because His Word says it. Romans 14:11 says, “For it is written: ‘AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, TO ME EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, AND EVERY TONGUE WILL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.’” If God’s Word says it, that settles it. It will be just as He has said. Do you believe that?

I know I can trust Him when He says something. I believe all my enemies will bow, just as I will. I will bow willingly. They will bow because they know they are defeated. Oh, how sweet to know in Whom I can trust.

I praise You, O God, for Your faithfulness to all generations.

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Abiding, Bible, Dependence, Rescue, Scripture, Trials

GUESS I’M WALKING

MICAH 5:10

“‘And it will be on that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘That I will eliminate your horses from among you and destroy your chariots.’”

There is not much more aggravating that a broken-down car. You are on the highway going somewhere, and your car or truck decides to quit. Mind you, I am not talking about just running out of gas (I’ve been guilty of that). I mean broken, not running, steam coming out from under the hood. You are not going anywhere. Your ride is gone. Hmm, sounds like our verse today.

Through the prophet Micah, the Lord is telling His people He is going to remove those things they had formerly relied on. They did not need them anymore. He was with them. He would fight their battles. God does not need horses and chariots. He wields the lightning bolts of heaven. He can throw hail stones down to earth to defeat their enemies. He is telling them to stand watch the hand of God.

APPLICATION

Oh, my friends, God is still saying that today. Do not rely on a medical miracle to save your life. Doctors only treat. They do not heal. That is God’s business. God is still bigger than anything we can come up with. We tend to think we can handle it. We can fix it. Especially us men. We are very bad about that.

But there are some things that we just cannot fix, and the sooner we figure that out, the better. If God allows your health to suffer, He has a bigger plan for you. If God takes you out of your comfort zone, allow Him to direct you. God is still doing great and mighty things.

Our problem is we do not see it. We westerners are especially blind to God’s little miracles. I speak as one who did not see them for decades. Even as a minister, I did not recognize the spiritual side of life as much as I should have. Sure, I knew God was there and was working. But wow, He is still doing some miraculous things in our midst. Open your eyes. Rely on Him.

Thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes to Your handiwork in my life. Help me share that vision with others.

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