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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hypocrisy, Inspirational, Modeling, Offering, Sacrifice, Testimony

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.

Standard
Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises, Sacrifice, Scripture

WASTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 8:13

“As for My sacrificial gifts, they sacrifice the flesh and eat it, but the LORD has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their guilt, and punish them for their sins; they will return to Egypt.”

Too often our “sacrifices” we make to the Lord are more about us than Him. We think we are making this great sacrifice, but it is really nothing. Our idea of a sacrifice pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us. We aren’t making animal sacrifices anymore, but we can still offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.

The Israelites were good at offering the sacrifices. Morning and evening, festivals and celebrations. Every time it was required, they would offer the prescribed sacrifice. But it meant nothing. Why? Because God knew their hearts. It says in today’s verse, “the Lord has taken no delight in them.” So, these were wasted sacrifices. They were made with the wrong intentions.

APPLICATION

What are you offering the Lord right now? Most of us offer Him our scraps. If we get time, we will read the Word. If we have some money left over at the end of the month, we will throw a few dollars in the plate. If we… You get the picture. We generally offer the Lord our leftovers when He demands the first fruits.

What is your first fruits? It’s your best. We should think of the Lord first each day. We should think of Him first when we are spending our money. After all, He is the one that gives us that new day and gives us our money. He provides for us. He deserves our best. Take a look at your offerings to Him today.

I want to give Him my very best. Do I always do that? No, and for that I am sorry. I truly desire to do it. But my flesh gets in the way. I don’t die to myself. I don’t surrender my will to His. I am just like the Israelites sometimes. But the Spirit always draws me back. He reminds me of whose I am. He deserves my all every day in every way.

I give You my all today, Lord. You deserve my very best, and I desire to give it to You.

Standard