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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Affliction, Hunger, Promises, Scripture, Self-control, Submission, Suffering

NEVER SATISFIED 

MICAH 6:14 

“‘You will eat, but you will not be satisfied, and your filth will be in your midst. You will try to remove valuables for safekeeping, but you will not save it all, and what you do save I will turn over to the sword. 

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and gotten a meal that just did not satisfy you? It may have been too expensive or tasted poor. Perhaps, you had bad service. Whatever the reason, stop and think about how important that meal really is. 

God did not mean the same thing I just mentioned. Their dissatisfaction was God-inflicted. He meant for them to get no pleasure from their food. Maybe He caused them to lose their sense of taste. I did that when I had covid. Maybe they did not have enough to eat. That was probably more likely. 

APPLICATION 

Have you ever been really hungry? I do not mean you just missed a meal, and your tummy is growling. I am talking about real, severe, haven’t eaten for days hungry. I cannot say I have ever really been hungry. I am getting hungry just writing this though, lol. 

Most of us are so spoiled. I know many Westerners are overweight (myself included) and are never satisfied. We think we should have whatever we want. I want to ask you to consider fasting a few days and see what the Lord shows you about hunger.  

This is not intended to be a guilt trip kind of thing. I know from experience how that works. If you are physically able, give it a shot. When those hunger pains hit you, begin to pray. Pray for the hungry all around you. Ask the Lord to speak to you through all that stomach growling. You may just be surprised. 

Father, thank You for providing all my needs. Help me to be more sensitive to those who have legitimate needs and may be hungry. 

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Advocate, Bible, Scripture, Submission, Worship

WHAT MOUNTAIN IS THAT? 

MICAH 4:1 

“And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.” 

Have you ever traveled somewhere and saw mountains in the distance and wondered which mountains they were? It happened to me recently while traveling in Albania. I kept seeing this beautiful mountain in the distance, so I asked my friend, Ilir, what is was called. Of course, he told me and then preceded to give me the history behind it. 

What is this “mountain of the house of the Lord” mentioned here in Micah 4. Some say it is just the temple mount. They say Micah is referring to the eventual return of the people from their exile. Other scholars, of which I agree, say it is pointing to Christ. “In the last days” is combined with that to point to the day when Christ will return and establish Himself forever on that temple mount. 

APPLICATION 

Regardless of what is meant here, we all know that Christ is returning one day. It may be in our lifetimes or not, but He is returning. And when He does, He will establish Himself as the Supreme Ruler. Of course, this will be after the Rapture has occurred and the tribulation is over. But I don’t want to focus on eschatology today too much. 

My point is – Jesus is King. He Is now and forever will be. Whether He is here on earth or in heaven above, He is King. He rules. He reigns. The sooner we realize that and submit to Him, the better. 

The next time you see a mountain, think about the mountain of the house of the Lord and who that is. Let your thoughts be on Him each and every day. Start your day talking to Him and the rest of the day about Him. Your soon and coming King is on His way. It could be any day now. Are you ready? 

Lord, thank You for this image of Christ we see in today’s passage. Help us see Him every day in that way. 

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Bible, Bitterness, Blessing, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Goodness, Submission

BITTERNESS

MICAH 1:12 

“For the inhabitant of Maroth waits for something good, because a disaster has come down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.” 

Some people are just plain bitter. They don’t like anyone or anything. They seem to revel in their bitterness. When someone asks them about it, they say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” God made me that way.” I don’t think so.  

Why do I mention bitterness? Because “Maroth” which is mentioned in today’s verse, means bitterness. So, you have bitter people expecting something good from God. They didn’t want the God who is good. They only wanted the good things. What happens? Disaster falls upon them. 

Oh, what a lesson for us today. If we walk around bitter all the time because life didn’t turn out like we thought, we cannot expect to receive God’s blessings. God is not in the business of blessing those who are not walking with Him. If we complain about not receiving God’s blessings, we can expect not to receive them. 

APPLICATION 

God is watching us and just waiting to bless us. He wants to bless us. Look around you today at the parents who are constantly giving their kids stuff regardless of their behavior. What do those kids act like? Little hellions! That’s right, I said it.  

God will not allow us to turn out that way because of His actions. Everything He does is perfect and good. He will bless you, but only as you submit to His will and His leadership. Then the blessings flow. Oh, what joy fills the heart of the Father when He blesses His children. Let go of the bitterness. 

Lord, wipe away all bitterness in my life. I want to please You and not just to get the blessings. I do it because I love you. 

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Agreement, Anger, Arguing, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

ARGUING WITH GOD

JONAH 4:9

“But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to the point of death!’”

I have met people who just like to argue. It does not matter what it is about. They just like to argue – the weather, politics, religion, the taste of sweet tea (lol). Some things are worth arguing about. Maybe I should change “argue” to “discuss” here. Either way, some things merit a conversation, but one thing is for sure – you cannot out argue God.

Look at today’s verse again. Jonah is actually arguing with God about his right to be angry. We discussed anger earlier, but here Jonah is once again stating his right to God to be angry about what He has done. Let me ask you a question. Do you think Jonah is going to win this argument? Of course, not. But he has every right to speak up. God is big enough to handle it.

APPLICATION

I agree that we need to learn to submit our wills to His will. There really is not another way to live the Christian life successfully. However, God knows us better than we do. He knows when we question His will what our motive(s) is(are). So, it is okay to “argue” with God, as long as you do not think you are going to win.

We have to keep in mind that His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees our life, past, present and future. He could tell us what is coming if He chose to do so. Most of the time, He does not. That means we have to trust Him, even if we disagree with Him. God’s feelings are not hurt by our questions. He is big enough to handle anything we throw at Him.

I am sure you can think of something right now that you would have chosen to handle a different way. I would have chosen to learn about the eternal things of God without going through my last stem cell transplant. But God chose that to teach me. Did I like it? Did I argue a little with God? Yep, sure did. In the end, I submitted to His will. How about you?

Lord, I do not always agree with You, but I know You are right. Help me trust You from the beginning.

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Abiding, Agreement, Asking, Bible, Doubts, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture, Submission

THE LORD RELENTED

AMOS 7:3

“The LORD relented of this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”

All my life I have been told that prayers can change things. I had always just accepted that as fact. I mean, why else should we pray? Yes, we acknowledge God as our Savior and Creator. We praise Him for who He is. We confess our sins to Him. And then we make our requests to Him. But why bother with that last step unless we believe we can change things with our prayers.

Amos cried out to God in verse 2, and it says in verse 3 that God relented. What does that mean? It means God changed His mind. Further punishment was withheld. God decided to not do what He had planned to do. Amos’ prayer moved God to change. Wow! Do you believe that is still possible?

APPLICATION

I believe with all my heart that is possible. I believe with all my heart that as I pray, submitting myself to His will, that He will hear my voice, bend His ear to earth and answer my prayer. Sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says not now. And other times He says yes.

I don’t know why He doesn’t always answer yes. I won’t know that until I am in heaven. But I am thankful for the times He does says yes. I don’t understand the mind of God. Who can? We have such finite minds. God works on a whole different realm than we do. I have to trust that.

I will, however, continue to pray, believing my prayers are being heard by the Creator of the universe. I may stir His heart as I pray and move Him to intercede in a way I had not even thought of. Based on that truth, I pray. I cry out like Amos. I am thankful that He is listening.

God, I cry out to You. I beseech You to move in my life and the lives of those who are reading this right now.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Encouragement, Failures, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Submission

DESTRUCTION

AMOS 5:9

It is He who makes destruction flash upon the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress.”

If you have ever seen a house demolished, you can understand the Hebrew word used here for “destruction.” There is no way to demolish a house without using some pretty, violent actions. For instance, if a large piece of equipment is used, they will probably just smash and flatten the house and then haul the pieces away. Smash, pound, grind!

Amos says here that the Lord will do the same to the strong and to the fortress. You would think the strong and a fortress could put up a better fight than that. But not against the Creator of the universe. His power is beyond comprehension. When He destroys something, it is pulverized. Nothing can stand up to His fist of judgment.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us today? Is God trying to destroy us? Of course, not. But He will humble the proud. He will allow things to come into our lives to bring us down to a level where we can listen to Him. We can build up walls (fortresses) in our lives to try to repel God. We think we can handle things on our own.

Instead of risking those wrecking balls that knock the wind out of you, how about taking down those walls yourself? Ask the Lord to reveal to you the walls of self-sufficiency in your life. Once you have identified them, start taking them down brick by brick.

When I was a little boy, my dad had me help take down a brick wall. I forget now where it was, but he was adamant about salvaging those brick. So, we did it gently, preserving most of the brick. Then he had me chip off the mortar and stack those brick. Later on, he used those salvaged brick to build a backyard sink and fish cleaning table. Why am I telling you that story? Your walls that you tear down may very well be used by God in your life for another purpose. Just watch what He does with them.

Father, thank You for tearing down my walls that I put up. I want to be used by you however You see fit.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Blameless, Guilt, Hope, Judgment, Promises, Scripture, Submission

THE JUDGE SITS

JOEL 3:12

Let the nations be awakened and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

I have a friend who is a judge. I’ve been to his court a lot. I don’t mind going to his court because he’s my friend and I am never in trouble when I’m there. He does, however, have to sit in judgment on others. He has to hear their case and then make a decision. He’s a fair judge, but he is also a firm one.

The judge of all the nations will one day sit in judgment over all. Joel is predicting that in today’s verse. One day, Jehovah will judge every single person on whether they know His Son. Many will claim they were too busy or were confused. Excuses won’t work then. When the judge sits in judgment, truth will reign.

APPLICATION

When you face your final judgment, how do you think it’s going to go? Are you fearful of what God will find in your life? If you are a believer in Christ, judgment has already been passed on your sins. They are forgiven. If you are not a believer, you have much to fear. There is no way you will talk your way out of His perfect sentence.

But there’s no reason to even have to worry about that. All that’s required is a surrender to His will. He wants each of us to live in such a way our future is foretold. When we are walking with Christ, our future is secure. I pray you have that assurance in your life right now. If not, stop and make things right.

Way back in 1977 I gave my life to the Master. He has my back. There is nothing I can do to loosen His grip on me. When I face my Maker at judgment, all He will judge is my works. My guilt, due to my sins, has already been removed. Oh, the joy of that confidence.

Lord, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your judgment. My sins are forgiven at Calvary.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Commands, Encouragement, Hope, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Submission

OUR KINGS

HOSEA 11:5

They will not return to the land of Egypt; but Assyria—he will be their king because they refused to return to Me.

I have never lived under a monarchy. I am an American, which means I live under a representative government. We elect our officials. Every four years we elect a President of the United States. Some years the person I vote for wins. In other years, the other candidate wins. That’s the way it works here.

Israel pushed to have their own king (instead of God) and got Saul. Numerous kings came and went over the generations. They eventually got kings from other nations who defeated them. Assyria was one such kingdom that forced their king on them. You have to remember, though, that it was God who allowed these kings to conquer Israel as part of their judgment. It is God who establishes kings and kingdoms.

APPLICATION

We should not complain about our President here in America. We are getting exactly what the Lord allows. Though I may not like the policies of a certain President, I am still told to pray for my leaders. There is a reason for the Lord establishing our current presidential administration. What is He trying to teach us, as believers?

One thing is for sure. We cannot and should not depend on the person sitting in the oval office to solve our problems. God is the only one we can turn to for that. Our politicians, whether President, Senator, Representative or Governor, are just flesh and bones. They are not infallible. They will make mistakes. They need Jesus to guide them.

So, our response to our “kings” has to be one of submission and obedience, unless they attempt to lead us in an unbiblical direction. Then we have a choice to make. For me, I will always choose Jesus. That may get me in trouble one day with the government, but that’s okay. God’s got my back. I can always count on Him. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in authority over me whom You wish to use to draw me closer to You. I trust You.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Leading, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Submission

ROPES OF LOVE

HOSEA 11:4

I pulled them along with cords of a man, with ropes of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them.”

I remember a time when I was using a piece of rope as an object lesson for children in a children’s sermon. I asked the kids if anyone had ever been tied up with a rope. To my surprise, one of the little boys raised his hand and said his dad ties him up and puts him in a closet sometimes. You can imagine how low his dad slipped into the pew upon hearing that. (By the way, the child was making that up, lol).

When I read this verse, the phrase “ropes of love” puzzled me. I didn’t think how that could be used in a good way, but it is. Jehovah is showing compassion for Israel. He is not treating them as an animal is with ropes. He even lifts the yoke off of them and feeds them. He is tenderly caring for them, even when they don’t see it.

APPLICATION

Has the Lord placed ropes of love on you? If you are a believer, He certainly has. He has bound you up in His love. He is leading you tenderly. His ropes are not meant to cut or bruise you. They are simply there to give you guidance. You may see them as restrictive. They aren’t. They are for your safety.

If you were climbing a mountain with a group, you would want some ropes. I promise you. You may think those ropes are restricting your climb, but they are keeping you safe as you wander near an edge or have to grab an outlying ledge. Ropes are good, especially God’s ropes of love. Will you let Him “tie you up”?

I will willingly offer my hands and feet to His cords. I want to be bound up in Him. I want His hands to tie those ropes securely around me to keep me near Him. I know I am prone to wander. He will gently tug when I am drifting away. I need that. I bet you do too.

Father God, use Your cords to lead me. I submit myself to Your ropes of love.

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