Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Evil, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHAT A DISGRACE

HABAKKUK 2:16

“‘You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Drink, you yourself, and expose your own foreskin! The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.’”

Too many men have fallen into disgrace in the recent years through moral indiscretions, bad choices and just plain being dumb. My first thought when I hear these stories is where were the godly men in their lives holding them accountable. Where were their friends?

God continues in verse 16 with this most recent woe. Here He is warning the Chaldeans of their own self-imposed disgrace. Their shame knew no low. Drunkenness, nudity and immoral behaviors ran deep in their lifestyles. They did not recognize the holiness of God or care that He had warned them of justice.

APPLICATION

Before you start pointing fingers at them, take a look at yourself. You may not live a disgraceful, public life, but how about your private thoughts? How about that secret sin you have hidden away (or so you think)? As believers, we are to live holy lives (check out 2 Peter 3:14). Our actions are to be above reproach.

I know you are probably thinking that your “little sin” isn’t hurting anyone. It’s all yours. It’s not anyone’s business. But our sins do not live in isolation. Sooner or later all those sins affect those closest to you. That secret porn addiction is harming your relationship with your spouse. That second or third glance at someone plants ideas in your mind that will come back to haunt you.

Christ has the answer. Amputation! Don’t get alarmed. I am not talking about any bodily maiming. But I am meaning that you have to take drastic action to rid yourself of these enticements. He has given you the power to do it through His Holy Spirit. Lean into Him. He is there. Listen to Him and obey.

Purify my mind today, O Lord. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

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Bible, Blessing, Choices, Gifts, Giving, Offering, Sacrifice, Scripture

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

MICAH 6:7

“Does the LORD take pleasure in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give Him my firstborn for my wrongdoings, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

How much do you give to the Lord? Now, I am not asking you to divulge the exact amount. That is between you and the Lord. But have you ever asked yourself how much is enough? Our giving has fluctuated over the years. Some years were more than others. Most years, when I tally it all up, I am surprised we gave as much as we did. God surely made up the difference.

Micah keeps throwing out the questions. Thousands of rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? Our firstborn? What does God want from me? How much is enough? Does He want it all? When will He stop asking? Micah is building to a point here. We will see that in tomorrow’s blog. He does, however, get our minds to ask the same questions.

APPLICATION

I have friends who are capable of giving tens of thousands of dollars. Some could even give millions. I have other friends who can only give a little. Which is greater in God’s eyes? It does not depend on the amount. It depends completely on the heart of the giver (I mentioned this in yesterday’s blog).

I am reminded of the story in the New Testament when Jesus witnessed the widow give her offering at the temple. We find that in Luke 21:1-4. “1 Now He looked up and saw the wealthy putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two lepta coins.  3 He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed to the offering from their surplus; but she, from her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.’”

I challenged you yesterday on your giving. I do not need to do that again today. Today, I want to praise you for your obedience in giving. I am trusting that you will follow the Lord’s stirring. And when you give, find that peace that only He can give you as you obey Him.

Take my offerings, Lord, and multiply them to reach the masses.

You can give to my ministry at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Bible, Blessing, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Promises, Sacrifice

WHAT’S IN YOUR HANDS?

MICAH 6:6

“With what shall I come to the LORD and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves?”

Do you remember making little crafts for your mom or dad in Vacation Bible School or Sunday School? Oh, how proud we were of those little projects. We made sure they made it home, and we made such fanfare of presenting them to them. We held them in our hands and placed them safely into the hands of mom or dad.

Micah asks the question here as if the people are concerned what they should bring to the Lord. They knew what the Law prescribed as acceptable offerings, but was that enough? Whatever they were to bring to Him would certainly not be enough to make up for their hardness of heart. You see, it is not about the offering as much as it is about the heart of the one giving it.

This is not a blog about tithing or giving our resources to the Lord. Now, that is important. Churches and ministries could not carry on the work of the Gospel without our gifts. The purpose of this blog is to ask you to examine your own reason for giving. Why do you give? Why do you give to the ministries or people you have chosen?

APPLICATION

I am a missionary of Trans World Radio (TWR). The ministry I serve is Every Man A Warrior (EMAW), which is the Men’s Ministry of TWR. TWR, EMAW and I depend on people like you to give to us. Your gifts allow us to do what God has called us to do. But I want to ask you to make sure you give to only what the Lord directs you. And when you give, give sacrificially, knowing the Lord will bless you.

There are several ministries which I support in our giving. I know each one personally and give to them because I know their mission and values. I do not have a lot to give (I am a donor-supported missionary after all, lol), but I find a peace in giving what the Lord tells me to give. Sometimes, He stretches me with that. Every time I am blessed by being obedient. Will you do that today?

Thank You, Father, for inviting me to give to You. I want my gifts and offerings to bless Your name.

You can give to my ministry at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Abiding, Bible, Distress, Encouragement, Fasting, Humility, Sacrifice, Scripture, Thirsting

NOT A DROP

JONAH 3:7

“And he issued a proclamation, and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: No person, animal, herd, or flock is to taste anything. They are not to eat, or drink water.’”

Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean, really thirsty. Your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. You can hardly swallow. Your mouth feels like it is full of sawdust. I have only been that thirsty a couple of times. When we had football camp in Moultrie, GA in August, oh my. The heat and dryness would dehydrate you in minutes, it seemed. Gatorade never tasted so good.

The king of Nineveh called on everyone to refrain from anything to drink. This proclamation even extended to the animals. Can you imagine trying to keep your herds from drinking? And when the king gave an edict, it was followed. No one was allowed anything. His purpose in this will be revealed in the coming verses.

APPLICATION

When I think of being thirsty today, I think about thirsting after the Word of God. God, unlike the king of Nineveh, does not withhold the water of the Word. He freely gives it. Like an artesian well, it flows and flows and flows. It gives refreshment to the driest soul. He restores the vigor of each person who indulges.

Psalm 42:1-2a says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;” Are you thirsty for Jesus? Does your soul thirst for God? We should have an unquenchable thirst for the things of the Lord. We should have a thirst that is not satisfied by anything of this world. Nothing else can meet that need in our life.

I am convinced that the more I drink the Word of God, the more God gives me the thirst for more. I read and study only to read and study more. It is a deep pool of water that never runs dry. I can literally dive deep into it and never come up for air. It envelopes me. I pray you can find that in God’s Word today.

I am so thankful for Your Word, O God. I truly pant after it just as the deer pants for the water.

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Bible, Conceit, Confession, Deceit, Exhortation, Humility, Justice, Modeling, Pride, Sacrifice, Salvation, Scripture

AFTER PRIDE COMES THE FALL

OBADIAH 2

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised.”

We all know that being prideful and boastful isn’t good. In fact, Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction the heart of the man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” I love that verse. When I am tempted to get cocky, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit of that verse. That’s one of the benefits of scripture memorization.

Albert Barnes says this about today’s verse. “God tells Edom what, amid its pride, it was in itself, ‘despicable;’ what it would thereafter be, ‘despised’.” That was Edom’s problem. They were a prideful lot who looked down on their brother’s fall. God could not and would not let that go.

APPLICATION

Do you suffer from pride and arrogance? It’s easy to get that way if we are not careful. We begin to think that what we have is all our doing. We forget what the Lord has done for us. Thinking that way is dangerous. It sets us up for a fall.

Whenever you begin to get full of pride, let the Holy Spirit convict you and draw you back to Jesus’ feet. There is no room for pride there. When our minds are focused on Him, we are reminded of His sacrifice for us. Just think of our lowly estate before the cross.

I am so thankful that all I am is because of Him. I am nothing outside of Christ. He makes me whole. He makes me righteous. He makes me…everything I am. I have no room for pride. I know in whom I have believed.

Father, I praise You for keeping me humble. I know my place is at the foot of the cross, bowing before You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confession, Direction, Guilt, Modeling, Obedience, Sacrifice, Sanctification, Scripture

SARCASM

AMOS 4:4

“‘Enter Bethel and do wrong; in Gilgal multiply wrongdoing! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days.’”

I can get very sarcastic at times. In fact, I like sarcasm. That has gotten me in trouble more than a few times. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be sarcastic with people who don’t understand or appreciate it. When I have done that, it caused hurt feelings and even anger a few times.

In today’s verse Amos is using a bit of sarcasm. He is telling the Israelites to keep doing the things they have been doing. They had been doing wrong. They had brought their sacrifices and tithes pretending they were doing all that God expected. Just keep on doing what you’re doing Israel.

APPLICATION

Before you start pointing fingers at Israel, are you doing the same? Do you go to church, throw some money in the plate but live like the devil all week long? God doesn’t want our tithes and offerings when we are not being obedient to Him in our daily walk. He had much rather have our obedience.

When we come before Him daily and live obediently God is so pleased. We don’t need to sneak around. God knows what we are doing all the time. Hadn’t you much rather live honestly and uprightly before your Lord? I sure do.

I have learned it is much easier to live openly than try to conceal a hidden sin. With my bad memory I am not good at concealing anything. But I know I can’t. God sees all. So, just live so that His eyes only see holiness and godliness. That’s what He desires.

Father, I praise You for seeing all. I have no reason to hide anything from You.

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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Ministry, Obedience, Sacrifice, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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Agreement, Bible, Brokenness, Discipline, Fasting, Hearing, Humility, Intimacy, Modeling, Offering, Prayer, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture, Suffering

FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Discipline, Faithfulness, Giving, Greed, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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UNCLEAN BREAD

HOSEA 9:4

“They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the LORD, nor will their sacrifices please Him. Their bread will be to them like mourners’ bread; All who eat it will be defiled, because their bread will be for themselves alone; It will not enter the house of the LORD.”

Have you ever grabbed the bread out of the panty and made an awesome sandwich only to discover that the bread was molded? I’ve done that a couple of times, so I try to examine the slices I pull out before I assemble my sandwich. Even then, if I don’t have my glasses on, I can miss some mold on the edge. Not very appetizing.

Hosea is comparing their sacrifices, specifically their bread sacrifices, to bread that is unclean. It is not acceptable to God. In fact, when they were taken into exile, they were told not to offer any sacrifices. Their drink offerings and burnt sacrifices were unpleasing to Him. They didn’t have the right motives behind them.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. Our sacrifices to God (not animal sacrifices or drink offerings) have to be given with the right heart. We can give thousands of dollars to the church, but if we do it grudgingly, we have not offered the right offering to Him. We can sacrifice time to the kingdom, but if it is done out of guilt, that too is not pleasing.

We give because of our love for the Lord. We offer our sacrifices of praise because of all He has done for us. Examine why you offer any offerings, tithes or sacrifices of any type. If they aren’t offered in the spirit of devotion and love, don’t bother. God is not pleased. You are no different than the Israelite.

I want my gifts to the Lord to be given to honor and give glory to Him. I want to pray over each and every gift I give, whether that be my time or my money. I want all my offerings to be a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God. How about you?

\I offer myself and all I give to You to honor You, Lord. I want You to know the smell of my offerings and recognize them immediately.

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