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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Bible, Scripture, Widows, Restoration, Splendor, Majesty, Orphans

SPLENDOR

MICAH 2:9

“‘You evict the women of My people, each one from her pleasant house. From her children you take My splendor forever.

I do not know about you, but I seldom think about anything that I would use the word “splendor” to describe. I guess I should do that more often. If I do, I could describe a beautiful sunset as having splendor. I could say our worship service displayed splendor. But the main way I would use “splendor” would be to describe my Lord.

Here in today’s verse, Micah uses the word to describe what these thieves, which we have been talking about in the past verses, have taken from the children of these widows. We know they are widows because they own their homes (women did not own property back then unless their husbands were dead, or their father had purposely willed it to them). These thieves were ruthless in their greed, neglecting even the neediest.

APPLICATION

James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” For us to show God’s splendor, we need to care for the widows and orphans. God has told us this is precious in His sight. He longs to see them loved on and attended to.

I love how Isaiah uses this Hebrew word, hadar. He says, “the splendor of His majesty.” Think about that for a minute. We can help maintain the splendor of His majesty in the lives of widows and orphans by caring for them. There are so many out there who need us. We just have to open our eyes to their needs.

I have shared before that I worked over thirty years in the child welfare ministry. Some of those children were true orphans, having lost both parents. Others had only one parent, usually a birth mother. It was my privilege to work alongside some incredible people caring for these children. It is my prayer that we restored the splendor of His majesty in their lives. Who can you help restore that to? Just look around and ask God to reveal them to you.

The splendor of our King, clothed in majesty, let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice.

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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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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, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Direction, Faithfulness, God's Will, Home, Obedience, Restoration, Scripture

THE RETURN

OBADIAH 19

Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin the territory of Gilead.

My family and I lived in TN in the 90’s. We loved it there, but God moved us to FL for a season. We spent eight years there and then were called back to TN in 2007. It was like coming home. Now, you Floridians, don’t take that wrong. Florida was our home while we were there. But Chattanooga always felt like our real home. Coming back just felt right.

In today’s verse, Obadiah is prophesying the return of Judah to their homeland. Not only would they return, but they would expand their lands. God will always stay true to His children. He may take us to the “woodshed,” as He did Judah, but He will restore.

APPLICATION

You may have a story of God’s restoration power. I know I do. I’ve been through two stem cell transplants for this disease I have (Amyloidosis). Borrowing a miracle, I will face another one in the years ahead. But each time, the Lord has restored my physical health. I am forever grateful for the lessons He taught me each time.

You may have been restored financially or emotionally. But the most important restoration we can have is our spiritual restoration. He promises to bring us from death to life. He gives us a true new life in Christ. He died and we live. Isn’t that incredible.

And just like Judah, when He restores us, He gives us so much more than we had before. I don’t mean physical stuff. I mean spiritual growth. We go from infants needing milk to eating the meat of the Word as we surrender to Him and seek Him daily. It truly is a restoration process in our lives.

Lord, thank You for restoring me. I was dead in my sins and You gave me new life.

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Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Restoration

PRAISE HIS NAME

JOEL 2:26

“‘You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.’”

Why do you issue praise on anyone? I have had the privilege to be a boss for a lot of great employees. I discovered the more I praised them for their fine work, the more they wanted to do fine work. Praising them also caused me to look at my own work. How well was I leading them? Am I an example they want to follow? Praising others is something you have to learn to do and practice often, or you lose it.

The Lord is speaking here in verse 26, and He tells us that because of His blessings on the Judeans, they will praise His name. Well, of course they would. Why wouldn’t they? He had restored them from a terrible judgment of locusts. He had restored them from hunger and thirst. They were looking upward. They were acknowledging their God.

APPLICATION

What drives you to praise your God? Does it take restoration to do that? So many of us wait until we are in a mess to cry out to God. We only praise Him when He delivers us. Why not praise Him all the time? After all, the deliverance He has already made in your life from an eternal damnation is reason enough to praise Him. Isn’t it?

Take some time today to praise Him. You can do that with song. I love to do that. Sing a hymn or a praise song to your God. You may want to spend some extended time in prayer or studying the Word. But make sure you praise Him for all He has done, is doing and will do in your life. Our God is amazing and deserves our praise.

Recently, I found a cd of some songs that our choir used to sing. When I popped them in my cd player in my truck and began to listen, tears streamed down my face. I could picture myself and the choir singing these incredible anthems in praise to our Lord. As I sang along, the praise just lifted to the heavens. Praise Him today. Give Him all the praise.

I praise You, O Lord, for all You have done and will do in my life. You are an amazing God and I love you.

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