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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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Calling, Encouragement, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

REBUKE

MICAH 5:8

“The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, among many peoples like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which, if he passes through, tramples and tears, and there is no one who can rescue.”

No one likes to be rebuked or corrected. Well, at least I do not. I had much rather receive praise for something. Hadn’t you? I remember my high school football coaches rebuking me for a missed block or missed tackle. Their words were not so kind. They wanted to get my attention and correct my actions. It usually worked.

Micah told us in the last verse that the remnant would be like dewdrops. Not so much in this verse. Here the remnant is compared to a lion which “tramples and tears.” The remnant would be firm and strict in their exhortation to the sinners. This was no time to be gentle. A fierceness was needed.

APPLICATION

There is a time to be low key and soft-spoken. And there is a time to be direct. We are in that direct time, I believe. Time is running out. Christ could appear anytime. We need to share with everyone we can about the encroaching judgment.

I know, I know. People may get offended. Better to be offended and saved that unoffended and spend eternity in hell. I am not saying we should grab people by the collar and beat them with a big, black Bible. But I am saying we need to be bold in our witness without fear of being ridiculed.

The risk of being bold is that we may turn some people off. That is not our goal. Our goal is to turn them on to Jesus. I need to live what I preach. It does no good to preach Jesus and live like the devil. So, my sharing moves me to live more holy. I want others to see Jesus in me. I do not want them to simply hear my words. Will you share Him with someone today?

Lord, give me the courage and the boldness to witness to those around me today.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Darkness, Deception, Double-minded, Evil, Faith, Goodness, Healing, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

HATE GOOD AND LOVE EVIL

MICAH 3:2

“‘You who hate good and love evil, who tear off their skin from them and their flesh from their bones,’”

Before I came to Christ, I loved doing things that fed my fleshly desires. Honesty time – I loved drugs and alcohol. Now, I would not say I was an addict (since I quit cold turkey once I was saved), but I got high most days somehow. Why did I do that? Because just like the people Micah is talking about in today’s verse, I loved evil, or at least the pleasures it brought my flesh.

The leaders of Israel had come to the point that they loved the evil and hated the good. Why hate the good? Because it pointed out their sin. They did not want that. They tore “off their skin,” which meant they took away from the people their outer goods and protection. Then they tore off “their flesh from their bones.” That meant they destroyed the foundation of these people’s faith. They led them into evil, and the people followed as lambs to the slaughter.

APPLICATION

Have you ever noticed that people who are living in darkness are always trying to drag others along with them? They do not want people around them who are living righteously because the light of Christ will point out their sin. They scatter like cockroaches when the light is turned on when someone mentions Jesus.

We cannot let that stop us from shining the light. We have to live lives above reproach in order to draw them to Christ. We must pray for these who are bound to sin. The Lord desires that “all men be saved.” Shine the light, people.

I am so thankful that the Lord did not leave me in my sin. In the midst of my lies and fleshly lifestyle, God saved me. Have I been perfect since then? No way. I have slipped. I have sinned. But praise be to God that His Holy Spirit will not let me stay there. He convicts me and draws me back to a place of repentance and grace. Where are you today? Do you love good and hate evil or the other way around?

I am reminded, Lord, of Psalm 101:3. “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part of it.” Help me to live like that every day.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Blameless, Commands, Condemnation, Confession, Eternity, God's Will, Guilt, Innocent, Scripture, Testimony

CAN I GET A WITNESS?

MICAH 1:2

“Hear, you peoples, all of you; listen carefully, earth and all it contains, and may the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.”

I have been in a few court trials in my life. Each and every time witnesses were called up front to testify to what they saw or know about the defendant’s innocence or guilt. Each and every time they are asked to swear to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The phrase “so help you God” used to be added to that, but most courts have dropped that now.

Micah is calling for the whole world to listen and bear witness to what the Lord is about to say concerning his chosen people. They are going to be held accountable for their breach of His covenant with them. So, the Lord wants everyone to watch and listen so they will learn what happens to those who do not heed His laws and commands.

APPLICATION

I love that Hebrew word for “listen carefully.” It has the idea of pricked up ears. You know what I mean? Suppose your dog is lying across the room from you sleeping. What happens when you call their name? They raise their head, look in the direction of your voice and their ears stand up. That’s the picture here in this verse.

How do I apply this verse to my life? Easy peasy! I need to listen carefully! That’s it – I’m done, lol. Seriously, we need to prick up our ears and listen when the Lord speaks. He always speaks truth. He wants us to listen carefully so we can learn how to walk closer to Him. He does not mince words. He speaks clearly.

I can get to talking fast sometimes, especially if I am excited about something. My wife will often give me hand signals to slow down. She and I both want the people listening to hear the message clearly. I am so glad I do not have to strain to understand my Lord. He speaks my language, and He speaks distinctly. I have no problem understanding His message to me. The problem lies with me doing what He says. Will you listen to Him today?

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me. Help me be more attentive to Your words.

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Belief, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Fear, Power, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

NOW I BELIEVE

JONAH 1:16

“Then the men became extremely afraid of the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Sometimes seeing is believing. For instance, try to explain to someone who has never seen the ocean what it is. It’s more than a large body of water. It has its own ecosystem with fish and clams and shrimp. It has waves (they may ask what a wave is) that break on the shore. Explain that, lol.

These sailors were now seeing the power of God in the stillness of the sea. They saw His power in the storm, but this stillness was supernatural. The storm stopped when they threw Jonah overboard. His words had come true. They worshipped Jehovah God right there on the deck of the ship and probably offered a sacrifice as they made those vows. They now belonged to Him.

APPLICATION

Many times, we never see the result of our witness. We plant seeds and leave, only to have someone else come along and water and perhaps reap the harvest. Jonah never saw the change in the sailors’ lives. He was swimming for his life. Hmmm, that applies to us today.

In the midst of our trials, we are so often so busy trying to survive that we forget others are watching us. They are observing how we handle this trial. Does our speech match our deeds? Is our walk matching our talk?

Don’t forget that. People are watching to see if your words become true. I am not saying you are a prophet, lol. I am saying that you need to speak truth at all times. Then you are to make sure you are walking in that truth. The people who are watching you are looking for glimpses of Jesus, whom you proclaim. Can they see Him?

O God, my Savior, You may throw me in a raging sea only for the benefit of someone else so they can see Your power. Use me Lord.

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Attention, Boasting, Commands, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

REVEALED

JONAH 1:9

“So he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’”

I met with a young man recently for the first time. We had only briefly met earlier at a local restaurant, so I did not know anything about him. When we met, I asked him to share his background with me. Why? So, I could get to know him a little better. I needed to understand where he had come from.

After lots were cast and Jonah had been questioned by the sailors as to who he was, Jonah finally begins to reveal himself to them. He said, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and dry land.” In other words, Jonah was saying he knew who was behind this storm. That was not welcomed news.

APPLICATION

Have you been revealed? Do others know anything about you. After my new friend shared his background with me recently, I felt like I knew him better. I understood where he was coming from. With that information, I could help direct him in the right direction, perhaps.

Revealing ourselves is difficult. It is especially dangerous when we aren’t sure how we will be affected. We open ourselves up to ridicule and shame. But we have to remember that Jesus revealed Himself even though He knew what the result would be. No one has ever revealed themselves as clearly as Christ.

I am pretty picky as to whom I reveal myself. Trust is not something I give away easily. It has to be earned. That can be earned quickly, as with this new friend I just made. Or it may take some time. But revealing myself is something I must do. That draws others to Jesus. Would you reveal yourself to someone today and share how the Lord has led you?

I am forever grateful, Lord, for You revealing Yourself to me. Help me to do the same for others.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Apologies, Bible, Consequences, Devout, Discipline, Examples, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Promises, Testimony

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

AMOS 9:8

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will eliminate it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally eliminate the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Are you a good promise keeper? We have all broken promises at some point in our lives. It may have been a small, minor promise, but it was still a promise. I try not to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

Failure was and never will be an option for our God. He had made a promise to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He promised him a land, a son and a nation. Now, as the nation of Israel was deserting Him and facing judgment, God reminds them of that promise. Jacob (also known as Israel) would be remembered and not totally destroyed.

APPLICATION

Let me encourage you today to keep your promises. Maybe you only promised your child an ice cream cone. Go get it. Maybe you promised your spouse a weekend away. Go! Maybe your promise is more serious like your wedding vows. Those must be kept.

Whatever promise you made, keep it. A vow made should be a vow kept. After all, as a believer, you are representing your Savior. How you keep promises reflects on Him. I think if we understood that fully, there would be fewer promises broken.

Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? One of my newest, favorite verses is found in Joshua. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” You can take God’s promises to the bank. They are for sure.

Lord God, I am so thankful Your promises are true and faithful. I rest knowing I can count on You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Prophesy, Scripture, Testimony

ONLY WHAT HE SAYS

AMOS 7:16

“So now hear the word of the LORD: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you prophesy against the house of Isaac.’”

Some people don’t want to hear the truth, no matter what it is. Hearing bad news is hard. Even though it may be the truth, we don’t want to hear it. Sometimes the truth points out our errors. No one likes that. We all want to be right and speak our minds, right?

Amaziah didn’t want to hear anymore of Amos’ prophesies against Israel. So, Amos says in a mocking way to Amaziah what he has been saying to him. Amaziah want Amos to stop his preaching and go back home.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us? Well, perhaps the Lord has given you a message that you need to deliver. It doesn’t matter what kind of response you get from others. You have to be true to the message you’ve been given. You may get a very cold reception because of your message. Give it any way.

Amos was basically being told to shut up and go away. Have you ever been told that? I remember once in Uganda, I was with a group doing street evangelism in an area known for their resistance to the Gospel. We had some drunks tell us to leave and stop talking to their neighbors. We continued our witnessing and actually got a couple of those antagonizers to listen to us.

Never stop speaking what the Lord has given you. We have all been given the Gospel and should be sharing it. I know it is uncomfortable at times. That doesn’t matter. Do it any way. You may get made fun of. That’s okay. Our obedience to Christ and the message He has given us is all that matters.

Father, thank You for the message You have given me to share to the world. Make me bold and courageous.

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