Battles, Bible, Freedom, Praise, Scripture, Sin, Surrender, Testimony

SHACKLES

NAHUM 1:13

“‘So now, I will break his yoke from upon you, and I will tear your shackles to pieces.’”

The first thing that I thought of when I read this verse was the song by Mary Mary called “Shackles.” The chorus says,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

Nahum is telling the Israelites that God is breaking their shackles of captivity put on them by the Assyrians (Nineveh). He is setting them free. I bet they felt just like Mary Mary. They just wanted to praise Him. Their shackles were real, though. They felt the weight of the chains. They knew how it felt when they fell off.

APPLICATION

What has you shackled right now? It could be a sin that you have not been able to shake off. You pray and pray but return to the cesspool of sin. That stronghold has you shackled with seemingly no escape. You may not have real chains, but it sure feels like it at times.

I have good news for you. God is still in the shackle breaking business. Lift your hands to Him in prayer, shackles and all, and ask Him to break them. Lay out your feet, shackles and all, and watch them fall off as you yield to Him and give Him everything. Until you do that, those shackles will continue to bind you.

Walking without shackles is a lot better than walking with them. You lose that “shackle shuffle” that is so obvious. When people see you walking free, they will ask what happened. That is when you can tell them you story. You can join with Mary Mary in singing,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

I love You, Lord, and I lift my hands to worship You. O my soul rejoice!

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Abiding, Accountability, Accused, Bible, Brokenness, Sin, Submission, Surrender

CRUSHED BY THEMSELVES

NAHUM 1:10

“Like tangled thorns, and like those who are drunken with their drink, they are consumed like stubble completely dried up.”

Some people are self-destructive. They continue to do things that put themselves in bad situations. No one needs to crush them. They do it to themselves – over and over again. No amount of advice helps. They are determined to “fix themselves,” even though they have no idea how to do that.

Nahum is talking to individuals just like that in Nineveh. In fact, history tells us that Nineveh had become so proud and arrogant, they thought no one could defeat them. In the midst of their drunkenness and debauchery, their enemies pounced. They never saw it coming. Pride was their downfall.

APPLICATION

What is your downfall? What is blinding you to your sins against a holy God? We put blinders on sometimes and do not see what is around us. We think we are doing just fine, and we are in the minefield. One wrong step and boom! Then we turn to God and ask what happened.

All along, God is trying to get our attention. He is trying to lead us in the right direction, but we will have no part of it. We know what is best. Take a minute and read John 15. You will be reminded that nothing is possible unless you are abiding in that life-giving vine.

I choose to allow Him to take my hand and lead me. I have stepped on enough mines in my lifetime. I want to walk safely and peacefully from now on. How about you? Are you tired of being crushed down and defeated by your own poor choices? Turn to Him. He will take you by the hand too.

Take my hand, dear Lord, and lead me. I want to go only where You lead.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Modeling, Obedience, Sin, Treasures

ARE YOU STILL DOING THAT?

MICAH 6:10

“‘Is there still a person in the wicked house, along with treasures of wickedness, and a short measure that is cursed?’”

Bad habits are hard to break. I remember back before I came to Christ, I had lots of bad habits (I do not need to name them all here, lol). One of them was smoking. It took me about six months to quit that habit. It was so addictive that to this day if I smell a cigarette, I want one. Oh, the devil knows our triggers.

The Lord is saying through Micah in today’s verse, “Are you still doing that? Are you still doing those wicked things?” The “short measure” meant they kept coming up short, even though they were bringing in “treasures of wickedness.” Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers it little by little makes it grow.”

APPLICATION

I have never been, nor will I probably ever be rich, at least not in the eyes of the world. My family has never lacked for anything because the Lord has supplied our needs. He has even given us some of our wants. I had a bass boat for a while and really enjoyed it.

My point is when we are living for the Lord, He supplies our needs. He knows exactly what we need each day. Being our heavenly Father, He also likes to bless us with things. What father does not like to do that for his children? There is nothing wrong with having things, as long as those things do not become your focus.

The people of Israel, just like us, had shifted their focus to their treasures. That was all that mattered. Their sins were ripe with that desire. We cannot sit back and point our fingers at them. We do the same thing. Take a few minutes today and look over what the Lord has given you. Give Him praise for all He has done.

Lord, I am not worthy of Your blessings in my life. I am truly a rich man, full of Your mercy.

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Abiding, Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture, Sin

SIN TRAVELS 

MICAH 1:9 

“For her wound is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has reached the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” 

It is unfortunate, but our sin does not just affect us. It has the nasty side effect of infecting other people. I can remember “leaking” my sin on others. Before I came to Christ, my lifestyle was not good. I led others into the same sins I was committing. For that I am forever sorry. I have spoken to most, if not all, of those individuals and asked them to forgive me. 

Israel’s sins made the journey to Judah. They were influenced by their pagan worship. They, in fact, welcomed it. So, now the punishment that was going to fall on Israel would also come upon Judah. Sin is always followed by judgment. It may not happen right away, but it will come. 

APPLICATION 

It just makes sense to not spread your sin. Better yet, just don’t sin. Right? Well, that’s easier said than done, Carl. Oh, how I know. I try every day to avoid sin, but it always seems to find me. It just jumps on me. I am like a sin magnet. My heart is to avoid it and run to God. Most of the time I am successful doing that. But there are times… 

So, when your sin travels down the road and affects someone else, what do you do? One – you ask the Lord to forgive you. Two – you ask the person you affected with your sin to forgive you. Three – you put things into place to help you avoid that situation again. 

We may not be able to avoid all sin, but we can sure do our part to put barriers in front of it. I truly believe we can live lives that honor our Lord without the guilt of sin. If we are seeking Him with all our hearts and spending time with Him each day, the Holy Spirit will lead us in godly living, not sinful behavior. What barriers do you need to build today to protect yourself from that? 

O Lord, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit convicts and guides me. Help me to listen quickly. 

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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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.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confession, Consequences, Deception, Discipline, Evil, Flesh, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Perversion, Scripture, Sin

PERVERSION

AMOS 2:7

“‘These who trample the head of the helpless to the dust of the earth also divert the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl so as to profane My holy name.’”

Sin by any other name is still sin. I know I have called my sins things like “my rights” or “just my personality.” Listen, anything that goes against what the Lord commands is sin, plain and simple. Anything that seeks my will over His is sin. Anything that belittles another is sin. I could go on, but you get the picture. We call our sins other things to disguise them and feel better about them.

All the things mentioned in verse 7 today were sins against a holy God. The rich were trampling the helpless for the dust they had put on their heads in mourning. They were diverting the meek and humble away from God. A father was marrying his son’s widow and vice versa. And father and son were perhaps visiting the same temple prostitute. All abominations in the eyes of God. But Israel was blind to them.

APPLICATION

What perversions do you have in your life right now? Most of us would quickly deny we had any perversions. Those are only the gross sins, right? Wrong. Any sin against God is perverse. They all go against His holiness. So, let me ask you that question another way. What sin(s) do you have right now that God would see as against His holiness? Now, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

I want to encourage you to confess those “perversions” right now. Ask the Lord to reveal to your eyes the sins you have not confessed to Him. Take the time to evaluate your lifestyle. Are there things you are doing on a daily basis that bring your faith into question? Are you compromising your testimony to achieve something? The Lord will show you what you need to confess, if you will just ask.

Staying “confessed up” is the key for me. The Holy Spirit is quick to convict me. If He’s too busy, my wife is always available. Lol. Seriously though, I am thankful for a wife that will not hesitate to call me out on my sin. That’s special. I love her for it. I pray you have someone in your life who will do the same. If not, find someone.

Your conviction in my life is precious, O Lord. I want You to keep my accountable for my sin.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

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Battles, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

INFESTED

JOEL 2:9

“They storm the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.”

Once, when I lived in Florida, our house became infested with ticks. We noticed a couple climbing up the wall in our den one night and killed them. The next day we saw more and killed them, but they just kept coming. We had the house sprayed a few times before they were finally contained. But they were everywhere. It was pretty creepy to live in.

The locusts Joel is describing here that came as part of God’s judgment on Judah were everywhere. One commentator’s description talked about them eating everything in the house, even clothing. The people had no rest from them. They couldn’t eat without battling them for the food. Can you imagine the scene? It must have been horrible.

APPLICATION

Sin is that way. It creeps in and infests our lives. If we do not deal with it quickly it will affect every area of our lives. We may think we can keep it isolated, but we can’t. It spreads. It penetrates even our most guarded areas. Sin seeps in and begins to cause decay. Just like those locusts in today’s verse, sin will devour everything in its path.

But we have the solution – Jesus. His blood covers all those sins. We will never be free from the presence of sin this side of glory. However, we do not have to live chained to sin. We have the power to live above it. We can close the windows and doors of our lives to its penetrating power through the Holy Spirit. His power trumps sin’s power every time.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to live in the stench of sin or in the aroma of our Savior. That’s pretty much a no brainer, if you ask me. I choose Jesus. I know He is my protector and defender. I trust Him to cover my sins with His precious blood. I am free because of that. How about you?

O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow!

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Apologies, Asking, Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Forgiveness, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

IT TAKES WORDS

HOSEA 14:2

Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all guilt and receive us graciously, so that we may present the fruit of our lips.’”

Apologizing to someone can be quite humiliating. Depending on what you are apologizing for, it can be hard to get the words out. I’ve known people who just couldn’t say they were sorry. It seemed impossible for them to form those words with their mouth. But to truly apologize you must. You have to tell that person just how sorry you are for whatever it was you did or said. Anything less just isn’t an apology.

Hosea gives Israel some good advice here. “Take words with you.” In other words, tell the Lord that you are sorry for your sins. Tell Him you want forgiveness. Tell Him you need Him. Israel was stubborn and rebellious, though. They thought they were okay just because they were God’s chosen. But God’s chosen can fall short too.

APPLICATION

When’s the last time you came humbly before your Lord asking for forgiveness? I pray it was today. You need to do this every day. I am reminded of David’s words at the end of Psalm 139. He asks the Lord to search him and show him his sins so he can confess them to Him. Have you ever done that? Try it.

I practice the ACTS method in praying. It’s just my habit. A-Adoration, C-Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S-Supplication. This method keeps me focused in my prayer time. Do you know what I’ve found out by doing this? When I spend all that time in adoration, confession and thanksgiving, I have less supplication. It’s more about me talking to God than asking from Him.

Will you join me in prayer today asking the Lord to reveal to you the sins you have tucked away? Come to Him in humility asking Him to cleanse you. As Hosea said to Israel, take words with you and return to the Lord. And come knowing He is waiting to receive you. He wants you to come home.

Father, forgive me today of those sins I have committed against You. Forgive me and cleanse me so that I can be Your vessel to be used to advance Your kingdom here on earth.

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