Bible, Change, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Restoration, Scripture

A CHANGING LANDSCAPE

ZEPHANIAH 2:6

“So the seacoast will become grazing places, with pastures for shepherds and folds for flocks.”

Going back to visit a location you haven’t been to in a while can be eye opening. The landscape changes. What used to be a cotton field is now a shopping mall. What used to be a shopping mall is now luxury condominiums. Things force change. Sometimes that is for the good of the community. Other times it is not.

Zephaniah continues his message of doom to the neighboring nations. Verse 6 is a continuation of the message to the Philistines. Their seacoast will change from dwellings of warriors to pastures for the shepherds to use to graze their sheep. A nation of war will become a place for peaceful men to dwell. Quite a change. Quite a promise for Judah as well.

APPLICATION

Are there areas of your life that need to be changed? Do you have a rebellious spirit that argues about everything? God wants to transform your life into a place of peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

A transformed landscape can involve many little changes over time. God may choose to use sandpaper to smooth off your rough surfaces. Or He may choose to take more drastic measures and bring out the jackhammer and sledgehammer. That’s usually how God works on me, lol. He gets one area of my life’s landscape shaped up and then starts demolition on another.

Now, the difference between our transformed landscape and the Philistines is they were being judged for their idolatry and rebellion against God. We are not being judged by God as He transforms us. We are safe under the blood of Christ. He just wants to make us look more like Him, to reflect the image of His Son. That is transformation that is welcomed. Right?

O Lord my God, shape me into whatever image You feel is right. I trust the work of Your hands on my life.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Judgment, Justice, Oppression, Restoration, Scripture

LOOK WHO IS SHAKING NOW

HABAKKUK 3:7          

“I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.”

People who boast and brag about their exploits can get on your last nerve. Am I right? I am not saying that we should feel that way, but it is hard to constantly hear that stuff. It is especially hard when you know they have hurt people in the process. You see the wake of destruction they have left. Yet they brag about it. It makes you wonder sometimes if God knows what they are doing.

Oh, He does. Habakkuk tells us so right here. Cushan and Midian had been thorns in the side of Israel for years. Midian used to raid Israel and leave nothing for the people. They would leave them impoverished. Both of these nations disappear after their defeats. All their successes vanish into thin air. God will have His vengeance on His children’s oppressors in due time.

APPLICATION

Perhaps you are being oppressed by someone right now. You feel there is no escape. You pray and are wondering if God is even hearing you. Oh, child of God, our God never sleeps and never slumbers. He is totally aware of your circumstances and is preparing to answer you in His perfect time.

So why does God allow suffering in our lives at the hands of unrighteous people? All I can tell you is that everything that touches our lives as believers goes through God’s hands first. I do not understand why He allows certain trials in certain people’s lives. I only know I can trust Him to see me through the trials He places in mine.

It is not my place to plot revenge on those who harm me. God will avenge me in due course. I may not be alive when that happens, but He will handle the situation according to His perfect will in my life. Do you believe that? Do you trust Him? Just allow Him to work. He loves you with an everlasting love.

I trust You, Lord, even when I can’t see You working. I know You are there.

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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, Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture, Surrender

SANDSTORMS

HABAKKUK 1:9

“All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They gather captives like sand.”

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I grew up in South Georgia. I spent a good bit of time at my Uncle Hugh Lee’s farm where we picked produce and where I worked in the fields with him. In the summers when it got dry, the wind would whip up dirt and just sling it in your eyes. It seemed as if a billion particles of sand were flying through the air.

That’s the picture God is painting for Habakkuk. The Chaldeans will come in swiftly and sweep their captives like sand caught up in a sandstorm. They will be captured and taken away so quickly. That message is one I am sure Habakkuk did not want to deliver to the people, but one that had to be told. There would be no escape from their judgment.

APPLICATION

What is the Lord “whipping up” in your face? What is He trying to get you to see? God does not punish us without warning. We have His Word to direct our decisions and behavior. We, as believers, have His Holy Spirit to convict us and redirect us. But what do we do? We ignore His warnings. We disregard His teachings.

So, we end up under facing God’s judgment. I don’t mean we are going to lose our salvation. No! If you are a believer, you are secure in Christ. But we face those “sandstorms” which God allows in our lives. They are not comfortable. But they are meant to drive us back to Him. We cannot stay in a position of disobedience and please our heavenly Father.

I am thankful that the Lord allows those gritty moments to lead us back to Him. I am thankful He doesn’t just leave us alone. He will not force us to do anything, but He will draw us back to Himself. Choosing to do otherwise will only lead to more heartache and pain. It’s your choice. Do you want sandstorms or gentle breezes?

Lord, bring on Your winds of change in my life. I want to be driven right back in Your arms when I stray.

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Bible, Completeness, Glory, God's Will, Restoration, Scripture

RESTORE THE SPLENDOR

NAHUM 2:2

“For the LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, even though destroyers have laid waste to them and ruined their vines.”

Years ago, I loved to restore antique furniture. I loved the process of stripping off the old varnish and stain. I loved stripping off layers of paint that had covered up the beautiful wood grains underneath. Then I would apply a new stain and varnish, making sure my brush strokes were straight and smooth. At the end I would have a fully restored piece of furniture.

The Lord is going to restore Jacob to its splendor. This meant that they would be fully devoted to Yahweh. They would empty themselves of any other allegiances and return to Him. He would be their splendor. It was not about anything they had done. It was all Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love Psalm 51:12 where David asks the Lord to restore to him the joy of His salvation? God did that. He restored David. After a terrible fall involving adultery, lies, deceit and even murder, God restored him. He can do the same for you. No matter what you have done, God can strip off all that old varnish of sin and restore your splendor.

We get so good at covering our sin, don’t we? Just like that old piece of furniture, which is covered with layers of paint or varnish, we cover our sins with all sorts of things. We think we can hide them, but God sees right through them. He sees what we can be in Him. It is His splendor that He wants to give us.

I am thankful that God stripped me of my layers of junk. I am thankful that all that shines in me now is because of Him. In fact, it is all Him. There is nothing good in me except Jesus. He is all I need. He is all you need, as well. Let His splendor shine.

Strip me Lord of all the layers I have built up in my life. Let me shine forth Your splendor for all the world to see.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Discipline, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Restoration, Scripture

NO LONGER

NAHUM 1:12

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Though they are at full strength and so they are many, so also they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no longer.’”

I had to have a test one time to determine if my nerve endings were affected by my Amyloidosis (the disease I have). I will not go into all the details of this test, but suffice it to say, it hurt. And it took a long time. I did not think it would ever end. Finally, the technician doing the test said, “Okay, Mr. Willis, we’re done now. The test is over.” What sweet words!

Nahum is telling Israel that the one He had used to afflict them would afflict them no longer. Their time of suffering had ended. Don’t you know those were sweet words to them, as well? On top of that, the ones who had afflicted them were going to get what was coming to them.

APPLICATION

Are you in a time of affliction right now? This too shall pass. Let me encourage you to not look on your affliction as affliction. Look on it as purification. See it as a testing to make you more like Jesus as you learn to trust your Father in the midst of the storm. I do not know what you are going through. I do not know the source of your trial. But I know the One who does.

There is not a trial that has ever afflicted one person that God is not aware. Some of those trials He has brought on to bring that person to Him. Other trials He has simply allowed. All of them are meant to make us better, not bitter. It all depends on how we surrender in the midst of the affliction.

I have shared numerous times in my blogs about the afflictions I have been through physically. I will hasten to say that I do not want to repeat any of them. However, I also know that God used them all to strengthen me and make me into the image He wants to produce in me. Let Him refine you today.

O God, Redeemer of my soul, make me what You want to make me. I am clay in Your hands.

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Bible, Covenant, Forgiveness, Mercy, Relationships, Restoration, Scripture

DELIGHTING IN MERCY 

MICAH 7:18 

“Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing and passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” 

Do you remember the childhood game “Mercy”? Two people would stand facing each other and lace their fingers on both hands together, palm to palm. Then one would try to bend the other’s hands back and cause them to cry “Mercy!” Only then would the one who was winning would let go. 

God does not dispense mercy that way. Micah tells us that He delights in mercy. That word “delight” literally means “to be pleased with.” It pleases God’s heart to show mercy to us. He is not trying to catch us doing bad stuff so He can zap us. Micah says He pardons wrongdoings and passes over rebellious acts. What an awesome God we serve. 

APPLICATION 

Are you crying out for mercy? Mercy is given to us by God to enable us to deal with the stuff we are going through. His mercy, in effect, soothes the suffering soul. If you are desirous of God’s mercy today, cry out to Him. He wants to show you mercy. 

Most of us blame God for our predicaments. We do dumb things that we know are not pleasing to God, and then we cry out for deliverance. Let me say that God forgives all sins (except the sin of refusing the Spirit), but often there are consequences for those sins. 

My God delights in showing mercy. That is good to know. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). I cannot use up God’s mercy. He does not tire of showing mercy to His children. Come to Him today and receive His tender mercy in your life. 

Your mercy is new in my life every day. I thank You, Lord, for being such a merciful God.  

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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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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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