Accountability, Bible, Flesh, Judgment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender, Trials, Wickedness

SODOM AND GOMORRAH

ZEPHANIAH 2:9

“‘Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of armies, the God of Israel, ‘Moab will assuredly be like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—ground overgrown with weeds and full of salt mines, and a permanent desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them, and the remainder of My nation will inherit them.’”

Parts of our world are just plain wicked. Sex trade, drugs and prostitution are staples of these places. The darkness that exists can almost be felt on your skin. You can see the lostness in the faces of those who live there. They live with no hope. No, they don’t live. They simply exist. There is no life in them – only death.

When the Lord through Zephaniah compares Moab and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah, the audience knew exactly what he was talking about. The story of those cities is told in Genesis 19. Here are a couple of those verses. “24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”

APPLICATION

2 Peter 2:4-10a gives us a great picture of God’s judgment and also His mercy. For the sake of space, I won’t include all of those verses here. You should take a moment and look that passage up. But the last two verses tell us what the Lord will do.

“9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from a trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt passion, and despise authority.”

We see the rescue and the judgment. God is capable of both. He rescued Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah, but He also judged the wicked in those cities. The same holds true today. God will rescue the godly. If you are living for Him and striving to live godly, God will rescue You in His perfect timing. But if you are living to please the flesh, then….

I am thankful for His Holy Spirit Who guides me each and every day. He warns me of evil. He points out those things that can lead me astray. Now, I still have to make that decision to follow His lead. He won’t force me. But I have learned to trust Him. Have you? Have you learned to lean on the Lord during those times of testing. He is there.

O Lord, it does break my heart to see those who are wandering in darkness. Help me shine the light of Christ on them.

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Bible, Judgment, Running, Scripture, Secrets, Sin, Submission, Surrender, Trust

STOP RUNNING!

HABAKKUK 2:2

“Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Write down the vision and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that one who reads it may run.’”

You may have heard the joke about the two men in the forest who come up on a bear. One of the men kneels down and reties his shoes. His friend said, “That’s not going to help you outrun this bear.” To that the man said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.” I know – dad joke, right?

God’s message to Habakkuk would cause the people to run. They would hear about God’s coming judgment and try to outrun it. As they discovered, you cannot outrun God. There is no escaping Him. His reach is too long. His feet are too swift. He knows where you are going and will find you. That hasn’t changed today.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to run from God? You may run, but you cannot hide. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer.” Psalm 90:8 reads, “You have placed our guilty deeds before You, our hidden sins in the light of Your presence.”

Stop running! Turn toward Him and confess those “hidden sins.” Allow Him to cleanse you and purify your heart. You won’t believe the relief you will feel. When you finally unburden yourself of those secret sins, you will be able to breathe and walk uprightly.

I know I can’t outrun a bear. I probably can’t outrun anyone. So, I am certainly not going to try to outrun God. Instead, I will run towards Him. I want to feel His warm embrace. I want Him to catch me mid-stride and stop me right in my tracks. He will whisper softly, “Come to me, my precious child.” Aren’t those words you want to hear?

I will cease striving and running after my own desires. I will turn to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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Bible, Captivity, Despair, Devil, Enemies, Evil, Faithfulness, Satan, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Trust

WILL IT EVER STOP?

HABAKKUK 1:17

“Will they therefore empty their net, and continually slay nations without sparing?”

(This is blog #2500. I cannot believe it. I began these post on January 1, 2016. I am about to finish my 7th year of writing these daily blogs. Please pray for me as I seek the Lord as I write these each day.)

The rise of evil and its spread throughout the world seems to never cease. It just gets worse and worse. Just the moment you think it can’t get any worse, it does. The depth of evil a person will plunge is beyond our imaginations. Will there ever be an end to this? When will God step in and stop it?

That’s the question Habakkuk is asking at the end of Chapter One. God has shown him this vision of the Chaldeans coming in and defeating them. He knows of their ruthlessness. He does not want his people to suffer. He is crying out to God, “When will they stop? Will they ever stop? Haven’t they done enough?”

APPLICATION

You may have been under spiritual attack from the evil one and have cried out the same as Habakkuk. “Lord, when will it end? I can’t take much more of this.” Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Some last a long time and others are over quickly. It is those that linger that truly test us.

We must remember, though, that God will not put on us more than we can handle with His help. We surely cannot handle it on our own, but as we submit and surrender to Him, we can get through whatever it is we face. There may still be dark days as you trust Him, but we are assured of His faithfulness.

I have faced these challenges. I have shared about some of them in my blog posts of the past. Suffice it to say, I have learned these lessons the hard way. There have been times when I entered a trial fully trusting. Then there are other times I went in kicking and screaming. But through them all I have found my Lord to be right there with me, sustaining and nurturing me. Will you rest in Him in the midst of your struggles?

Father, in Your strong hands I place myself. Do with me as You see fit.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture, Surrender

SANDSTORMS

HABAKKUK 1:9

“All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They gather captives like sand.”

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I grew up in South Georgia. I spent a good bit of time at my Uncle Hugh Lee’s farm where we picked produce and where I worked in the fields with him. In the summers when it got dry, the wind would whip up dirt and just sling it in your eyes. It seemed as if a billion particles of sand were flying through the air.

That’s the picture God is painting for Habakkuk. The Chaldeans will come in swiftly and sweep their captives like sand caught up in a sandstorm. They will be captured and taken away so quickly. That message is one I am sure Habakkuk did not want to deliver to the people, but one that had to be told. There would be no escape from their judgment.

APPLICATION

What is the Lord “whipping up” in your face? What is He trying to get you to see? God does not punish us without warning. We have His Word to direct our decisions and behavior. We, as believers, have His Holy Spirit to convict us and redirect us. But what do we do? We ignore His warnings. We disregard His teachings.

So, we end up under facing God’s judgment. I don’t mean we are going to lose our salvation. No! If you are a believer, you are secure in Christ. But we face those “sandstorms” which God allows in our lives. They are not comfortable. But they are meant to drive us back to Him. We cannot stay in a position of disobedience and please our heavenly Father.

I am thankful that the Lord allows those gritty moments to lead us back to Him. I am thankful He doesn’t just leave us alone. He will not force us to do anything, but He will draw us back to Himself. Choosing to do otherwise will only lead to more heartache and pain. It’s your choice. Do you want sandstorms or gentle breezes?

Lord, bring on Your winds of change in my life. I want to be driven right back in Your arms when I stray.

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Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Protection, Scripture, Surrender, Victors

STOP!

NAHUM 2:8

“Though Nineveh was like a pool of water throughout her days, yet they are fleeing; ‘Stop, stop,’ but no one turns back.”

Do you remember playing in the yard with your friends and having team games. We used to play “Capture the Flag.” Loved that game. I can remember seeing the other team coming and seeing all my teammates running for cover. I would yell at them to stop, but they were just trying to take care of themselves.

That is the scene Nahum is describing here in Nineveh. The “pool of water” had been disturbed. The enemy was pouring into the city and the inhabitants were running for it. All shouts from their leaders commanding them to stay and fight fell on deaf ears. Nahum says, “no one turns back.” All fled.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you – are you running for cover or staying to fight? We are in a battle. You know that. I am not saying anything you don’t know. The Lord is telling us to stop running. We do not have to fear these attacks. We just have to turn and face them, knowing that it is the Lord who fights for us.

I have shared before one of my favorite verses. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, while you remain silent.” You see the moment we surrender our heart and life to Him; He becomes our protector. Nothing will touch us that He has not allowed. So, turn and face whatever attacks you are under.

Stop the complaining! Stop the excuses! Stop the hiding! Just stop! Watch what the Lord will do when you surrender to His will. Watch what He will do when you finally allow Him to fight for you. He is waiting. What will you do?

I hear Your voice, Lord, telling me to stop and fight. I will fight, knowing the victory is through You.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin, Surrender

HOPELESS

NAHUM 2:1

“The one who scatters has come up against you. Keep watch over the fortress, watch the road; bind up your waist, summon all your strength.

When you come up against a force that is greater than you, all your defenses are worthless. I played high school football many years ago. I remember vividly playing against a high school from Alabama that was far superior to our small, rural high school. We were overmatched from the start and despite our great efforts, we were trounced.

Nahum turns his attention fully now to Nineveh and its pending destruction. He almost jokingly tells how they can watch the road and bind up their waist. They can summon all their strength, but nothing will prevent God’s judgment falling upon them. They will not be able to resist His power.

APPLICATION

We read this prophecy against Nineveh and point our fingers at them. We think how could they even hope to defend themselves against God. But we do the same. We fight against God daily defending our own actions that we know are not what God desires. But because we think we have the right; we just do it.

There is nothing that gives us the right to do as we want. We are free in Christ to do as we should. That is a big difference. We are just like Nineveh in so many ways. We put up our defenses. These are useless against a holy God. The best thing we can do is surrender and agree with God about our sins.

Confession is just that – saying the same thing about our sin as God is saying. We agree with Him. The problem today in our society is nothing is sin. Sin is an outdated word. To say someone is sinful is being intolerant. God’s standards have not changed. Neither has the way He deals with sin. Confess your sins today and feel His mercy and grace.

Forgive me, Lord. I have sinned against You and Your principles.

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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, Belief, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Denial, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture, Surrender

DEVIOUS THOUGHTS 

NAHUM 1:9 

“Whatever you devise against the LORD, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice.” 

I have known a few people in my life who have literally shaken their fists at God. They have decided to live their lives as if He does not exist. They refuse to acknowledge Him and may even seek to mislead others. They are, in a sense, making or devising plans against God and His people.  

These people have lived for centuries. Nahum saw them in Nineveh. In fact, their king thought his success against Israel was due to his own strength and power. He quickly forgot that He was only the vessel God had used to punish Israel. As Nahum attests, God “will make a complete end of it.” No one can escape His judgment. 

APPLICATION 

Are you devising plans against God? Of course not, Carl. I would never make plans against Him. Listen, dear heart, when we do not yield to Him, we are in fact devising plans against Him. We are saying that we know better than Him. We believe our way is better.  

Our devious plans against God’s will for our lives will not succeed. When will we realize that? Sure, we may see some initial success, but it will not last. There is no eternal reward for our temporal plans. However, when we submit to Him, His plans will lead us directly into eternity. Now, that is a plan. 

Looking back at my life, I can see moments when the trajectory of my life turned toward my own selfish desires. My devious plans included choosing to do what I wanted to do, even though the Spirit within was saying something different. Hindsight is always 20/20, but God’s foresight is as well. Trust His plans. 

Lord, thank You for having the perfect plan for my life. Help to surrender to Your will. 

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Promises, Rest, Safety, Scripture, Surrender

NO REST

MICAH 2:10

“‘Arise and go, for this is no place of rest because of the uncleanness that brings on destruction, a painful destruction.’”

“All rest is wearisome which is not in Thee, O our God.” Albert Barnes said that in his commentary on Micah. Indeed, it is. Recently, I stained and sealed our small back deck. It took me a lot longer than I thought. When I was finished, I was totally exhausted. I am so glad I had a place to rest.

Micah is still delivering God’s words in today’s verse. God is telling them they deserve no rest because they gave no rest. They deserve destruction because they brought on destruction. The land is unclean because of their idolatry, their pagan worship.

APPLICATION

We all need rest. I normally sleep 5-6 hours a night. For me, that is plenty. Others require 8 or more hours (I won’t name any names, lol). So, when God tells the people “this is no place of rest” that must have been quite disturbing. They were in distress. They needed rest, but none would be found in the land. God’s judgment had fallen due to their idolatry.

God can give you rest. You may be weary. You may be worn out. Do not fret. The God who established rest is here. In Him you can experience true rest, rest that will last, eternal rest. I am not saying you will never get tired again (I wish that were true). But in Jesus, you can have the rest that will never end.

I am so thankful I am resting in Christ. Psalm 62:5 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God…” Oh, that is a rest I can depend on. When I came in from staining my back deck, I cleaned up (which took a while with all the stain on me, lol) and rested in my recliner. I won’t say I took a nap, but my eyelids shut for a while. As good as that rest was, it did not last. My rest in Christ will.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6)

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