Bible, Humility, Righteousness, Scripture, Submission

ARE YOU HUMBLE?

ZEPHANIAH 2:3

“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have practiced His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will remain hidden on the day of the LORD’S anger.”

Did you know that the word “humble” or “humility” appears more than one hundred times in the Bible. I guess you could say it’s pretty important. But most of us have no clue what it really means to be humble or to show humility. I don’t see myself as a particularly humble guy. I’ve been called that, but I don’t see it. Does that make me humble, lol?

Zephaniah tells us in verse 3 of chapter 2 the importance of humility. The humble practice the Lord’s ordinances. They seek righteousness. By doing that, he says, “you will remain hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.” Bowing before a holy God requires such humility. Do you have it?

APPLICATION

The ultimate example of humility, of course, is Jesus. Just look at Philippians 2:5-8. “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 being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, Carl. That is all well and good, but He is God. I’m not Jesus. That’s true, but He tells us to be like Him. And if He tells us something to do, then it is possible to do it. He never tells us to do something that He doesn’t equip us for.

Humility requires us to die to our flesh. That’s the hard part. We see others as more important than ourselves. We seek to serve others. Can we do that? Certainly, but only through Christ. Will you humble yourself today? Will you bow before your Lord and allow Him to humble you? Give it a shot. He will reward you.

Humble me, Lord. Show me how to live as You did in service to others.

Standard
Allegiance, Belief, Bible, Faith, Righteousness, Scripture, Trust

THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

HABAKKUK 2:4

“‘Behold, as for the impudent one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous one will live by his faith.’”

When I read today’s verse, my mind immediately went to Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves. It is a gift from God, not as a result of works, so that no man can boast.” It is only by His grace and through the faith He has given me – no other way. That is how I must live.

God points out to Habakkuk a contrast between those who are puffed up (the impudent one) whose pride is his god to those righteous who simply live by faith. One commentator said this regarding this faith. “By this faith in God, each righteous person begins to live piously, righteously, holy, peacefully and divinely, and advances therein, since in every tribulation and misery, by this faith and hope in God he sustains, strengthens, and increases this life of the soul.”

APPLICATION

Paul says it well in Galatians 2:20 (which happens to be my life verse). “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Only my faith in Jesus gives me the strength and power to live in this fallen world.

But God promises to be with us in that faith exercise. He gives us the faith to have faith. Confused? Don’t be. Faith is a gift from God. By receiving that gift of faith at salvation, we are able to grow in our faith more and more each day. Faith breeds more faith.

My faith has been tested many times. But each time I have come out stronger than I went in. My faith has been strengthened. I am able to face harder things because of that. Did I like that? Heck, no. I had rather sit in a bass boat and chunk lures at large mouth bass. But God has other plans. He wants to grow me more and more into the image of His Son. He wants the same for you. Have faith.

Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Standard
Accountability, Accused, Bible, Lying, Righteousness, Scripture, Trust, Truth

DECEITFUL TONGUE

MICAH 6:12

“‘For the rich people of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.’”

Have you ever heard the expression, “If his lips are moving, he is lying”? I have known a few people like that. Most of the time, they are lying about things that do not matter at all. They just make up stuff to make themselves appear smarter than they are or more important than they are. They just have to appear above others.

The Lord here speaks against such people. He clumps them with violent rich people. Lying and the desire for riches seem to go hand in hand. The Lord is not saying having riches make you violent or deceitful. He is saying it can make you more prone to it.

APPLICATION

I can recall telling my children to just tell me the truth if they had done something wrong. I did not want them getting into the habit of lying to cover up something. I had rather know the truth and deal with that. But if they lied about it, they would be in more trouble with me.

In order to know how to not lie, we have to know the truth. Jesus told us that in John 8:32. “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Let me tell you something. I had much rather be free than in prison. Hadn’t you? Lies will bind you. Lies will imprison you. You will be trapped by lie upon lie upon lie.

Watch your tongue. James warns us in James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our body’s parts as that which defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” You can’t get much clearer than that.

Will You tame my tongue, O Lord? I want it to speak truth to all.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Battles, Belief, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Righteousness, Scripture

WOULD GOD DO THIS? 

MICAH 2:7 

“‘Is it being said, house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient? Are these His works?” Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?’” 

As a pastor and a minister of the Gospel, I have been asked many times why God would allow the death of a loved one or a mass killing. I have also been asked by others why God would allow them to get cancer. I do not have answers to all these questions. I can only point them to Christ. I know He has all the answers. 

The Israelites were asking these questions. Would God really do this? Is God really behind this? God answers through Micah with the last phrase of this verse. “Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?” That is a punch in the mouth, isn’t it? The Hebrew word for “rightly” could be translated uprightly or straight. 

APPLICATION 

You may be one of those people who have questioned God. You may not understand why He has allowed something horrible in your life. Let me tell you something. I understand that. My wife and I lost a little girl, Cathleen, back in 1987. She only lived about six hours. That was hard. There were questions, but God healed our hearts. 

I have also gone through two, count them, two stem cell transplants for treatment of a disease I have. That was not easy either. I prayed to die a couple of times, but God healed me. I am healthier today than I have been in probably a dozen years. As I said earlier, I do not have all the answers, but I do know the One who does. 

I want to encourage you today to lean into Jesus during those hard times. Do not worry about leaning too heavily on Him. He can carry the load. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Do you believe that? Then trust Him. 

O Father, I do not understand all You are doing in my life. I understand You are in control, so I will allow You to lead. 

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Justice, Righteousness, Scripture

WATER

AMOS 5:24

“But let justice roll out like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

There is just something about a peaceful lake scene. The calmness of the water tends to affect your attitude. A gently flowing mountain stream is also a favorite of mine. Water has that kind of effect on people. It’s no surprise that all through Scripture God uses this imagery.

I love how Amos says these words in verse 24. “Let justice roll out like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” What is he really trying to say here? Israel had perverted justice and had definitely prevented righteousness. It is time for them both to be set free.

APPLICATION

How do we do that? How do we pervert justice and prevent righteousness? We do that by getting in the way of God’s truths. We don’t want to accept what He has to say about our sin. We think we are above that. Many today believe that sin is totally relative. It just depends on the situation.

Anything we do that does not agree with His Word is unjust and unrighteous. Why do we think that’s okay? Because the world says it is. Because Satan tells us it is really not important. We have done an amazing job of marginalizing sin. Sin is not sin anymore, thus justice and righteousness don’t flow.

I am so thankful that His Word shows me the truth. I am glad I am drawn to justice. I am so glad His righteousness reigns. No matter how the world may try to thwart His justice and righteousness, it will come through. Why? Because He loves us. It has to come through because our God triumphs over evil. Praise the Lord.

Truly, Lord, let your justice and righteousness flow into my life. I want to be known as just and righteous only because of You.

Standard
Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Evil, Failures, Holiness, Modeling, Prophesy, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin

EVIL INFLUENCE

AMOS 2:12

“‘But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets, saying, “You shall not prophesy!”’”

Have you ever influenced someone to do evil? It’s not something to be proud of. Unfortunately, before I was a Christian, I did that. I don’t need to say what I did or to whom. Needless to say, I am so sorry for doing that. I have since apologized to those to whom I did that. You see, sin is so easily corruptible.

The Israelites were guilty of doing the same. The Lord says here that they made the Nazirites drink wink, which went against their vow to not let anything from the fruit of the vine touch their lips. They also commanded the prophets to not speak the word of the Lord. They didn’t want to hear it. The Lord rebukes the nation for these acts.

APPLICATION

Why do we do these things? Because we want to look better than others. The Nazirites lived holy lives. That shined light on the Israelites sins. They couldn’t have that. Prophets spoke against their sins. They couldn’t have that either. We are the same way. We don’t want others pointing out our sins. We don’t want others living lives that “show us up.”

However, we are in need of conviction. The Word says we all have sinned. That’s a fact. We need someone to point out our sins. Too many preachers today fail to do that. They gloss over sin. They condone sin. They openly accept the sins of others. That’s too sad. And it’s against what the Lord expects. God expects holy living among His people.

So, what’s it going to be for you? Are you going to influence towards evil or towards holiness? I may not always do the right thing, but it is my prayer that I always point others towards Christ. I pray they see Him in my walk. I pray they hear Him in my speech. May God continue to convict me when I fail Him.

Lord, I am so sorry for the many times I failed You. Continue to use Your Holy Spirit in my life to point me in the right direction.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Obedience, Relationships, Righteousness, Scripture, Waiting

THE WAYS OF THE LORD

HOSEA 14:9

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but wrongdoers will stumble in them.”

I can remember my dad teaching me some things about woodworking when I was growing up. My dad could build just about anything. And when it came to refinishing furniture, he was a master. He always told me to take my time. You can’t rush the process. Applying stain, varnish and sanding takes time. He showed me how and then let me try.

God’s ways are like that. We have to follow the process. We can’t just make up our own way. Sometimes God’s ways take time. You can’t rush it. Hosea is reminding us here in the last verse of the book that we need to reflect on all he has said. He says, “the righteous will walk in them, but the wrongdoers will stumble in them.” That’s a pretty, straightforward statement.

APPLICATION

So, the question for us today is what will be choose to do. Will you take the time to understand God’s way? Are you wise? Are you discerning? I believe you are. Let me encourage you to go back and read all my blogs on Hosea in one sitting. Discover God’s way of doing things. Be patient in the process.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways. In my case, they seldom are. I want to figure it out myself. I want to get things done. I don’t like waiting. And because of that, God makes me wait a lot. He knows what I need and will do what is necessary to help me learn it. Do I like that? No! But I know He only wants what is best for me.

So, I will be patient as I learn the process, just like I was when my dad taught me how to refinish furniture. I have to follow each step and not rush it. I have to wait for the first coat of paint or varnish to dry first. I have to wait for… Well, you get the picture. It’s a process. Will you follow God’s ways today?

I am thankful, Lord, for the process even though I don’t particularly like it. I trust You.

Standard
Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deception, Harvest, Lies, Righteousness, Scripture, Surrender

IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

Standard
Abiding, Alone, Bible, Comfort, Deceit, Devil, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Leading, Lies, Punishment, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

Standard
Anger, Apologies, Battles, Bible, Choices, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Holiness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

Standard