Bible, Modeling, Offering, Redemption, Repentance, Sacrifice, Scripture, Testimony, Worship

OUR SACRIFICE TO GOD

ZEPHANIAH 1:7

“Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, because the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.”

As a man of God, I am called to sacrifice for my family. There have been many things that I willingly gave up or decided not to do because of my family. Other things required an action to my sacrifice. I had to choose to do something which was sacrificial in nature. Now, hear me clearly. I have almost never wanted to make a sacrifice that cost me something. But each time I did, it was worth it.

In verse 7 of Zephaniah 1 we see the prophet declaring that God is the one who prepares the sacrifice. God had rejected man’s sacrifices of bulls and sheep because they were not given as true sacrifices. They were merely an action the people did out of tradition. There was no true sacrifice from the people. So, now He is preparing the sacrifice. Through judgment He is consecrating His people.

APPLICATION

Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Our sacrifice to God is not a bull or sheep. Our sacrifice to God is ourselves. And as with any sacrifice, we must be put on the altar, dead to ourselves.

The altar of God had a point on each corner where the sacrifice could be tied down so it would not slip off the altar as it was burning. I know I need to tie myself down each time I offer myself to Him. I am usually not a willing sacrifice. I go kicking and screaming. But just as the sacrifice that was given correctly and burned on the altar gave a sweet aroma to God, our willing sacrifice of ourselves puts a sweet scent in the air to God.

What part of you have you not sacrificed to God? What are you holding back? He demands it all. A partial sacrifice is not a sacrifice. He demands a complete and whole sacrifice of yourself. Will you offer it to Him today? Will you lay yourself own on the altar of God and allow Him to raise you back up?

I offer myself today, Lord, as a willing, living and holy sacrifice to You.

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Bible, Exalting, Praise, Rejoicing, Scripture, Singing, Worship

SELAH

HABAKKUK 3:13

“You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You smashed the head of the house of evil to uncover him from foot to neck. Selah”

I like to sing, and to be able to sing you must know when to pause or rest. It helps if you can read music, but a lot of people sing without ever having learned to do that. A pause in music can be powerful, if done well and done right. It accentuates the rest of the music.

Why am I giving you a music lesson? Because remember when I started chapter 3, I told you that Habakkuk wrote these verses in combinations of three Hebrew words. He wrote it to be able to be sung to music. So, it makes sense that he would say “Selah” to mark a pause. Think about that. Why a pause? What was he trying to point out?

APPLICATION

Maybe you need to take a pause. That pause, that Selah meant something. The word “selah” actually means to lift up or exalt. Hmmm! Think about that. How can we pause in order to lift up or exalt our Lord? What could you do this holiday season to lift up Jesus?

We get so busy with all the holiday trappings that we forget to stop and thank Him for all He has done. We forget to take a breath and actually enjoy our family instead of hustling and bustling from this house to another house. We try to cram as much into the holiday as we can.

I want a slower Christmas this year. I want one in which my family can say “Selah” and pause to lift up and exalt my Lord. I want to think about the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about the tree or presents or Santa Claus. It is about Jesus. Don’t make light of that this year. Selah!

Thank You, Father, for reminding me here in this verse to pause and lift You up. I exalt Your name.

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Accountability, Allegiance, Belief, Bible, Idols, Scripture, Truth, Worship

SPEECHLESS

HABAKKUK 2:18

“‘What benefit is a carved image when its maker has carved it, or a cast metal image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.’”

My wife and I are opposites when it comes to morning conversations. I am a morning talker, and she is not. After her second cup of coffee, then she’s ready. By then, I am ready for a nap, lol. I am not often accused of being speechless. I guess that’s okay for a preacher, right?

God is telling Habakkuk to remind the people of the hopelessness of their false gods. Carved images don’t answer prayers. Carved images can’t even hear their prayers. Think how foolish it is to make something and then pray to it. But the idol worship of Habakkuk’s day was full of such practices.

APPLICATION

You probably don’t have carved images sitting around your house. Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps you do. Sometimes, believers go to another country and buy a trinket that they think is cute, not knowing it is some idol sold to worship a false god. That’s only inviting evil spirits into your home. Be careful of that.

But this verse isn’t about us doing that. Instead, it is about us worshipping anything other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He should be the only object of our worship. Nothing else is real. Anything we put on a pedestal intended to bring us happiness will fail us. Simply put, don’t waste your time.

I will commit to worshipping the one true God. How about you? Will you join me this Christmas season in spreading the good news of a God who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die for it? The world needs Jesus so badly. What better time than now to spread the true meaning of Christmas?

You are the only true God. There is none beside You. There is none like You.

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Bible, Family, Loyalty, Relationships, Scripture, Wealth, Worship

WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?

HABAKKUK 1:16

“Therefore, they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net, because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.”

People worship stuff. There, I said it. We worship sports. We worship money. We worship prestige and fame. We have done it for centuries. Whatever we put most of our time and attention to becomes our god (notice I put a little “g” there). When will we ever learn that there is only One True God?

The Chaldeans literally worshipped their instruments of war. They would praise their swords and spears. They would claim their strength as their god. This was a common practice then and one that continued for centuries. Warriors in many countries often sacrificed to their weapons and swore allegiance to them, as if they were gods.

APPLICATION

So, this begs the question of us. What do we worship? I know you are going to be quick to say, Carl, I only worship God. Really? Then where do you spend your resources? How much time do you really give God? Do you worship Him in Spirit and in truth? John tells us to do that in John 4:24. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

I live in the South where football is King. I’m talking about American football, of course. This time of the year people spend hours engrossed in a ballgame that will be forgotten next year. But we won’t spend 30 minutes with our Lord. I know I am meddling. And I must confess that I watch football, too. But it is not my god. It can never replace that relationship.

Your god may be your family. You spend every moment thinking of and caring for your family, but you neglect your time with Jesus. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family, but we need to spend time with the One who adopted us into His family. Ask yourself today what your god is. Is it Jesus or something else?

I seek You, Lord. I want to know You more so I have to spend time with You.

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Awe, Bible, Holiness, Reverence, Sanctification, Scripture, Worship

MY HOLY ONE

HABAKKUK 1:12

“Are You not from time everlasting, LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, LORD, have appointed them to deliver judgment; and You, O Rock, have destined them to punish.”

I don’t hold many things as holy. The Bible, of course, is holy. I consider baptism and communion as holy events. I even know some holy people. What does that mean – to be holy? That word in the Greek means to be set apart for a specific purpose. But let’s take a look at the word Habakkuk uses here. It might surprise you.

This title given to God here is one commonly used by another prophet, Isaiah. Just look at some of the times it is used by him. Isaiah 1:4; 5:19, 24; 6:3; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19; 30:11-12, 15; 31:1. Wow! And that is only a few. Do you get the picture. This title is important. The Hebrew word means sacred. Habakkuk wants to start by addressing God in holiness and awe.

APPLICATION

We have lost that sense of awe when addressing God. In the attempt to make Him personal, which He is, we have forgotten that He is also a holy God, deserving of all our reverence and worship. How we show that I believe is important. Why? Because the world is watching us.

You would be hard pressed to find a preacher in an U.S. pulpit wearing a suit and tie today. But that same preacher will don that attire when conducting a funeral. Why? We are showing respect in the wrong places. Now, let me quickly say that what you wear to church does not make you holy. But how you present yourself to others, I think, shows Who you hold as holy.

Some churches on Sunday mornings could pass for night clubs with the decibel level of the music and the darkness of the rooms. I know I am meddling today. But I so desire for us to return to a spirit of holiness and reverence for our God. Don’t allow the world’s influence to creep into your worship. Stay holy!

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. I want to cry holy.

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Bible, Boasting, Humility, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Strength, Works, Worship

THERE IS A GOD AND YOU’RE NOT HIM

HABAKKUK 1:11

“Then they fly along like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.”

Some people have a god complex, meaning they think they are gods of some sort. They think everyone should bow to them and do whatever they ask. They think they can do no wrong. They see themselves as superior, and we should be grateful they even acknowledge our existence.

The Chaldeans made a fatal mistake. They thought their success against Israel was due to their own strength, their own power. They did not realize God was simply using them as His instrument of judgment against Israel to bring them back to Himself. If God calls you guilty, you are guilty. They were and would soon find out.

APPLICATION

Do you suffer from a god complex? I sure hope not. As believers, it is important to know your position in Christ. Yes, we are beloved. Yes, we are the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). But God is on the throne. Jesus is at His right side. They rule heaven and always will. We will not arrive in heaven one day and tell Jesus to move over.

I love what Colossians 2:10 says. “In Him you have been made complete.” Does that mean we are perfect. Not by a long shot. The word “complete” there means to be filled up, to be satisfied. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have been filled up. Filled up with what? With Him through the Holy Spirit. We lack nothing spiritually anymore.

But we cannot sit idly by and simply dwell in that. We have work to do. I read a quote this week by A.W. Tozer. It said Christ didn’t call us to work. He called us to worship. It is through worship that we are led to work. That is a rough paraphrase, but you get the idea. We are not in charge. God is. Live like it.

Father, I want to acknowledge right now that You are the one and only true God. There is none like. There is none beside you.

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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, Encouragement, Exhortation, Glory, Intimacy, Music, Offering, Passion, Scripture, Worship

GIBBERISH

AMOS 6:5

“Who improvise to the sound of the harp, and like David have composed songs for themselves,”

I have experienced a lot of different kinds of worship music over the years. Some of it has been extraordinary. Some of it has…well, not been. Worship music is supposed to lead us to the throne. It prepares our heart, in a service, to hear the written Word. It is vital, I think, to the whole process of worship.

You won’t believe what Amos has to say about this. Albert Barnes explains the Hebrew word parat, translated as “improvise.”  “The word, which Amos alone uses in this one place, describes probably a hurried flow of unmeaning, unconsidered words, in which the rhythm of words and music was everything, the sense, nothing;” They were just making noise!

APPLICATION

You don’t have to guess how to you apply this verse. We have to make sure our worship is actually worshipful. It has to be directed to the Lord. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him. We are pointing others to the throne. We are leading others to a more intimate connection through the music.

I sang in choirs for decades. I truly love to sing. It can be easy to get pulled into a performance mode, if all you think about is how you are going to sound. Now, that’s important. I think we should strive for excellence. But it is more about the heart music. When my heart is right with the Lord and I am submitted to His leadership, the music that comes out of me will be sweet in His ears (not necessarily everyone else’s, lol).

I want to challenge you today to sing out. Psalm 33:1-3 says, “Sing for joy in the LORD, you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”

O, how I praise You, Lord! Your name is deserving of all our worship.

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Bible, Encouragement, Honor, Praise, Scripture, Worship, Worthy

SILENCE

AMOS 5:23

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.”

Sometimes you just want silence. Can I get a witness? Amen! The noise of the world gets overwhelming. You want some peace and solitude. That is especially true if the noise is something you don’t want to hear, like really, bad country music. Lol.

God had had enough of their singing and music in their make-believe worship. They were still going through the motions of worship with all the noise it entailed. But God would have none of it. He recognized it for what it was – noise. He won’t listen to our empty efforts either.

APPLICATION

So, how do you know if your worship is genuine? Don’t you want to know that? I do. I don’t want to pretend to worship. I want to truly worship my Lord and Savior. I want to give Him all the honor and praise He is due. I don’t want to go through the motions.

Do you want to know what I’ve learned about worship? It comes from the heart. It has nothing to do with our emotions or our intellect. We can plan and plan every worship service. We can have the best praise band or choir around. None of that matters unless our hearts are right.

That’s why we have to start our worship long before we get to church. We have to get our hearts right, confessed clean and ready to receive from Him. When we have done that, worship overflows. Worship is a direct result of heart preparation. So, get your heart right! Then come to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Worship will follow.

I worship You, Lord. I praise Your holy name. You alone are worthy of my praise.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Scripture, Worship

GOD’S HOUSE

AMOS 5:5

“But do not resort to Bethel and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Bethel will come to nothing.”

I have always had a deep respect for God’s house. Even before I became a Christian, I felt an awe for church buildings. Now, I know the building does not really matter. We can worship God anywhere. I have worshipped under trees, in alleys and in fancy buildings. The question is “Does God reside there?”

Amos is telling Israel that all the places they have been going to “worship” God are imposters. Jeroboam had made Bethel the place of worship for Israel to prevent them from going to Jerusalem. Gilgal and Beersheba were also used for worship, but the one true location (at this time) was the temple in Jerusalem. 

APPLICATION

Where do you go to worship? This is so applicable to 2022. So many people have decided to stay home and worship God from their couch. They simply watch a preacher on the television or online and consider that worship. Worship is so much more than that. Worship involves the body of Christ. We need to be with the body to do that.

Now, I understand there are still some who feel, because of their health, they can’t put themselves at risk by attending in person. I am not talking about them. I am talking about the millions of individuals who have gotten comfortable at home. They need to reengage with the body of Christ and get out of their pj’s.

I may get in trouble because of this blog. There are many who disagree with me. That’s okay. Just don’t settle for a Bethel,  Gilgal or Beersheba. You need your Jerusalem. You need your local body of believers to worship together. Try it this week.

I want to worship You, Lord. Let me join others and lift up Your name.

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