Abiding, Belief, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Relationships, Sanctification, Scripture

ANSWER ME

MICAH 6:3

“My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

I have mentioned before that I spent over three decades working with children and youth in the Child Welfare system. Give me a kid that is vocal and shouting rather than one that will not talk. Even when caught in the act of disobeying, these children will most often not respond to questions. Passive-aggressive is one term used for them.

The people God had chosen to love were acting that way. They had been caught in their sins, and now they were refusing to confess them and talk to their God. Unlike me, God is extremely patient. Psalm 103:8 say He is compassionate and gracious. He just wants to hear from them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear the Lord speaking to you? If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit who indwells you speaks for the Father. He is drawing you towards Him. He is speaking. Will you not talk back? Carl, that is plain crazy. I am not going to talk out loud to Him. Why not? He is as real as you and I.

I love to pray out loud. It helps me clarify what I am saying. It reduces distractions for me. And when I talk to the Lord, guess what? He almost always talks back. Not in an audible voice, but in my spirit. You may ask, How do you know that is the Lord? Because the words line up with His Word.

Now, there have been times when I did not want to answer God when He talked to me. In those times I was not living as I should. I was rationalizing my sins. I was simply resting in my salvation but not living to be sanctified. There is a big difference. Oh, how wonderful to hear His voice. The next time you hear it, answer Him.

Speak Lord, and I will answer. I love to carry on conversations with You.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Calling, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Sanctification, Scripture

GOT TO GET THE ROOT

MICAH 5:14

“‘I will uproot your Asherim from among you and destroy your cities.’”

Weeds are a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, plants had no “enemies.” Weeds had no purpose. But since then, weeds have plagued farmers and gardeners alike. To get rid of the weeds, you have to get the root. If you just break it off, it continues to grow and spread. You have to really dig deep.

God is going to uproot any Asherim (wooden images of the Phoenician goddess) and destroy (totally exterminate, demolish) their cities. Any place that held an idol was going to be purged. God was going to flatten the surface from any corrupting influence for His people.

APPLICATION 

Idols still exist today. They are all around us. I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Anything that comes before your relationship with God can be an idol. Anything! God wants and desires first place in your life. He is the only one deserving of that.

Being in the ministry sometimes blurs that line. I think I have been pretty good about protecting my family and keeping them before my ministry. There have been times when the “ox was in the ditch” and I had to work longer hours, but for the most part I tried my best to keep them before my ministry.

But the line gets blurred between my relationship with God and my ministry. They are not one in the same. My ministry is my calling to share the Gospel and disciple men into disciple makers. But I cannot do either of those effectively if I am not abiding in the Vine. That abiding must come first, followed by my family and then my ministry. Take a minute and evaluate your priorities. Do you have something on the shelf above God? If so, take it down a notch or two.

Praise You, O God, for reminding me of Your place in my life. You should always be on the top shelf.

Standard
Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Holiness, Judgment, Modeling, Sanctification, Scripture, Suffering, Surrender, Trials

RISE UP

AMOS 6:14

“‘For behold, I am going to raise up a nation against you, House of Israel,’ declares the LORD God of armies, ‘and they will torment you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah.’”

I have learned from personal experience how God can raise up things in my life to teach me a lesson(s) that I need to learn. Now, hear me clearly. This is how He has worked in my life. I can only speak to that. But I know for a fact that He allowed my health issues to grow me more like Him.

That is always His purpose behind our trials. Amos speaks forth God’s words declaring the coming of a nation that He is sending to bring God’s judgment on Israel. It would a full judgment stretching from the northern most point to the southern most point of the country. God’s judgments are always complete.

APPLICATION

If you are in the middle of a trial right now, thank God. Yes, I said thank Him. Why in the world would you want to do that? Because every trial sent our way is meant to make us more like Jesus. God doesn’t allow trials in our life to toy with us or to just cause havoc. Every single aspect of that trial is orchestrated by Him to make us holy.

You may be ready for the trial to be over. Can God see Himself in you yet? Are you surrendering your all to Him? Do others see God portrayed in your life through this trial? That’s what God is doing. Rest assured – this trial won’t be over until God says so. He doesn’t leave it half done. He will complete it.

So, come on God. Enough already. I’m good enough. Obviously not. Every trial has a beginning and an end. God will bring you to fulfillment. And oh, when He is finished, you will look so much more like Him. You will see later what He was doing in that trial. You may not see it until you get to heaven, but you will. Rest in Him. Trust the process and give Him glory.

You’re still working on me to make me what I ought to be. I know that and am willing to be molded into whatever You want me to be.

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, Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Discipline, God's Will, Holiness, Modeling, Sanctification, Scripture

SEPARATED

AMOS 2:11

“‘Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets, and some of your young men to be Nazirites. Is this not so, you sons of Israel?’ declares the LORD.”

It seems lately I have been bringing up a lot of my childhood memories in my daily blogs. I am thankful for those memories. Today, I am remembering my daddy’s shop in our backyard. My dad had a great shop with just about every tool needed for any job. It was a collection of tools over decades. But one thing I remember about his tools was he had certain tools for certain jobs. I can still remember picking up some tools in his shop and wondering what in the world it was for. Then he would explain the purpose, maybe only one purpose, and I would understand.

God set apart the Nazirites for a purpose. They were the ones called to live holy, unstained lives in the midst of perversion and disobedience. We can think of the stories in the Old Testament that talked about them. One in particular stands out – Samson – who was not true to his calling. He disobeyed the Nazirite vows in so many ways. God still used him, but I wonder if he had been more faithful, what else could he have done for the Lord.

APPLICATION

We are called to be separated from the world also. As believers in Jesus, we are to be different, peculiar, aliens in this land. Sure, we have to live here and interact with others. But our mode of living needs to look different from the world. We need to raise eyebrows. Especially now in our culture, we need to show that it is possible to life “separated.”

How do you do that? Psalm 119:9 tells us. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word.” There is no other way. Only the Word will keep you separated. It teaches us how to walk with Christ daily, still interacting with the world around us like He did, and yet not get stained by the influence of evil.

I am thankful I can walk separate. I am thankful I can live holy. I am thankful for the Word of God that shows me what to do every day. During this week of Thanksgiving, give thanks with a grateful heart for being separated by Christ.

Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Born, Child Bearing, Commands, Double-minded, Godliness, Holiness, Joy, Life, Obedience, Promises, Sanctification, Scripture, Testimony

NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

Standard
Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Healing, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture, Surrender

THE ERASER

1 JOHN 3:5

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”

There was nothing better than a good eraser when I was in grade school. In fact, my mom used to buy us extra erasers. We loved the kind that went on the end of your pencil. You were really cool if you had some kind of cartoon figure eraser. But we also had those big, pink rectangle-shaped erasers. Those could last a long time. Erasers were essential when I was in school.

Jesus is our sin eraser. Because He knew no sin, only He was qualified to be that sin eraser. One definition of the Greek word for “take away” is to sail away. I like that. Our sins simply sail away. They have weighed anchor. They are no longer here. Jesus makes them vanish. How great is that?

APPLICATION

Get your kids to try out some different erasers with different writing instruments. Start out with a sharpie. Have them try to erase it. Then try an ink pen. Finally, give them a pencil. Some marks we make cannot be erased with a plain eraser. They are pretty much permanent.

Ask your children how they erase their own mistakes, their own sins. They may say they ask someone to forgive them. They may say they promise to never do that again. Those are like the sharpie and pen marks. Our efforts to erase our sins just don’t work. Only through Jesus can we get the forgiveness we need. Teach your kids to confess their sins daily. A clean slate is always good.

Does your slate need cleaning? Go the One who can erase all your mistakes. He can forgive you and give you the cleansing you need. All you have to do is confess. That may be a little painful, but it is the only way. Make it right with Him and experience the joy of walking in forgiveness.

Lord, I need Your eraser in my life. I confess to You today the ways I have fallen short. Cleanse me now.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Cleansing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Mentoring, Parenting, Purity, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

WHAT HOPE?

1 JOHN 3:3

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Well, last night I went to bed with my team, the Atlanta Braves, leading in the fifth inning in game seven of the National League Championship. I tried to stay up but was just too tired. I went to bed with a hope they would hold on to win and go to the World Series. Guess what? That didn’t happen. The Dodgers came back to win, sending Atlanta home.

If you read this verse by itself, you have to ask yourself, “What hope?” That hope is not my hope in the Braves (thank goodness). You need to go back and read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 3. That hope is solely in Christ. John tells us if our hope is in Him then we should live in such a way to honor Him. We should purify ourselves by putting anything out of lives that dishonors Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love bath time with the kids? Really? You don’t? It can be a challenge, especially when they get a little older. Little boys love to play outside and do not necessarily like to wash that outside off once they come in. The smells of where they have been and what they have been doing are all over them.

The next time you are discussing bath time with the kiddos, read them this verse. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Explain to them that just as the physical world can affect how we smell, the spiritual world can affect how we live. We have to keep ourselves cleaned up spiritually through confession and righteous living to remove the stench of sin. You may not can smell that sin, but you can sure see the results of it in your life.

How pure are you today? Jesus wants you to walk before Him purified and reflecting Him. He is not honored by our wallowing in sin and professing to be a believer. He, in fact, demands pure living. Will you confess whatever it is you need to confess today? Let Him cleanse you and help you walk in purity.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life. Thank You for convicting me of the impurities I carry along with me. I want to walk representing You.

Standard