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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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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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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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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GET OUT OF MY HOUSE

HOSEA 9:15

“All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deed I will drive them out of My house! I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebels.”

I can still hear my mama telling me to get out of the house with my nasty clothes. Lol. I worked at a gas station when I was in high school. I worked hard and my jeans and shirts got nasty. I mean real nasty. They smelled like gasoline and oil. Sometimes I had to work in another part of my boss’ business and got even nastier. So, I had to strip out of my clothes outside. My filth didn’t belong in her house.

God was sick of Israel’s filth – their filth of idolatry. They even used Gilgal, a place where God had met them before. They must have thought since God had been there in the past, that place was still holy. How could they think their pagan gods would enhance Gilgal? God, through Hosea, says, “I came to hate them there.” Pretty harsh words.

APPLICATION

What filth are you dragging into God’s house? Are you mingling the world with the divine? We do that sometimes without even realizing it. We are so accustomed to living in the world that we think we can drag all that stuff right into our worship. It’s no different than what the Israelites did.

I want you to think about how you worship the Lord. Are you letting the world influence you? Are you buying the lies of the devil that you have to embrace the world’s culture to reach the world? I am not referring to a people’s culture. I am talking about the fleshly side of culture. None of that belongs in God’s house.

Pure worship is holy worship. Holy worship is always pointed toward the Lord and not us. No part of worship should exalt us. When we are worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth, it all flows upward. Isn’t that what you want? It’s what I want and is what I pursue. Oh Father, You are holy!

Protect me, Lord, from any hint of false worship. Keep my flesh and my pride out of the way. I want to only worship You.

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THE LORD’S DAY

HOSEA 9:5

“What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the LORD?”

I had a drug problem as a child. I was drug to church every Sunday, lol. Now, I may have said that in jest, but the truth was every Sunday I was in church. It was just where we were on Sunday mornings. We were in Sunday School at 9:45 and worship at 11:00. It was the expected thing to do, and we did it. Sunday was the Lord’s day.

Sadly, the Israelites had forsaken the Lord’s festivals in exchange for the worship of other gods. They even combined some of the holy festivals with pagan worship. God, through Hosea, was asking them where they are. His chosen people had forsaken Him. They didn’t have time for Him. He was not a priority.

APPLICATION

We are seeing the same thing today. Covid has gotten a lot of people out of church. Many are content to remain at home and channel surf until they find a preacher they like. Others are content to live stream the service into their home. Going to church has become unimportant. Coming together with other believers to worship and praise our King is not a priority.

Church isn’t out of style. I am afraid we have become complacent. We are allowing the world to dictate our behaviors. Now, I am not talking about not attending while the pandemic was rampant. Most of us took precautions during that time. But that time as passed. Vaccines have been taken. The severe threat has come and gone. It’s time to return.

Don’t let the Lord ask you where you are on Sundays. Sure, you can worship God anywhere (I hear that a lot). But we need each other. We desire community. We grow stronger with other believers in our lives. You can’t do that in front of the tv or computer. If you are one of those who has become comfortable at home, I want to encourage you today to return to the Lord’s house. He wants you there. And others need you there.

Let us not forsake the assembling of the body of Christ, Lord. Remind us how important it is to be together in worship.

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THE PARTY’S OVER

HOSEA 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.”

I’ll never forget when I came to Christ. Before I did, I was kind of a party guy. I grew up in the 70’s when drugs were big. I got caught up in that scene and liked to party with my friends. But…when Christ came into my life, I gave up all of that. I didn’t want that anymore. My friends I had at the time thought I was crazy for giving up that party scene. I knew better. Still do today.

God also took away the “parties” from the Israelites but in a different way. He couldn’t tolerate their false worship anymore. By leading them into exile, they were not allowed to celebrate the festivals. They had the right “parties” but were abusing them. God desires our worship, but He won’t accept false worship.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. What are you worshipping? I worshipped partying in my young life. I discovered true worship in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you going through the motions of worship? Do you do the “church thing” expecting that to suffice for your spiritual life? It won’t. You’re not fooling God. He knows your heart.

So, when are you going to seek Him in spirit and truth? Are any of these questions hitting home with you? Well, let me tell you a secret. They hit home with me, too. I have to constantly reflect on my worship. I want to make sure my worship is always pointed heavenward. I want my worship to be glorifying God. Anything else is just as bad as the Israelites.

Will you join me in true worship? Oh, how the Lord loves that. He loves to see His children honoring Him. He longs for our fellowship. Begin today. Stop what you are doing and spend some time worshipping Him. He is listening.

I worship You, O God. My heart is lifted before You today.

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JUST A MAN

ACTS 10:25-26

“25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’” 

I have known people who would love to be worshipped. In fact, most of those people worship themselves. They think they are God’s gift to humanity. They walk around looking down on everyone, because they know they are better than them. Or so they think.

I am not trying to rude or uncaring. It’s just a fact. Our flesh loves to be worshipped. But Peter was having none of that. The instant Cornelius fell to his feet, Peter didn’t just speak to him. He raised him up and said, “I too am just a man.” In other words, there is only one God and I am not Him. Peter knew where worship belonged.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse for our kids because they can develop heroes who they idolize. Sports figures, singers and movie stars are just some examples. None of these people have the right to be worshipped. We must direct our children to the One who is worthy.

Let me go further. We believers can put pastors or Christian leaders on a pedestal. Guess what? People on pedestals tend to fall off. I have had the privilege to know several “famous” individuals. They are just human, like us. And the ones I respect the most always pointed me back to Jesus. They knew where all the credit lies.

Are you an idol worshipper? Do you put people on pedestals? Maybe you are the one on the pedestal. You long for people’s praise. Be very careful. As I said earlier, there is only one God and you are not Him. He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

I worship You and You alone. I praise you for all You have done in my life and will continue to do. Thank You, Lord.

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SAVE YOURSELF

1 TIMOTHY 4:16

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

I know what you are thinking.  “Save yourself? What are you saying, Carl?” Before you call the heresy police, let me explain. Paul is instructing Timothy to be careful to continue to teach true doctrine and follow it himself. By doing this he will show to others that he is a true follower of Christ and a faithful minister of the Gospel. His first concern should be his personal spiritual growth and then secondly, the salvation and growth of others.

There was a problem already arising in the early church of false teachers and preachers. They saw an opportunity to deceive others by preying on their desire to know God. So, these false teachers would teach false doctrines pointed at benefitting themselves. Paul was warning Timothy about appearing as one of them.

APPLICATION

We, as parents, should similarly instruct our children to have as their first priority to grow spiritually. Through Bible Study, prayer, worship and fellowship with other believers, they can continue their growth as a disciple of Christ. And then they will be prepared to reach out to the lost around them. But you can’t fully disciple others until you are grounded yourself.

I have seen far too many new converts get sidetracked trying to go back into the world to reach their lost friends. The lures of their past are strong. It is so easy to get sucked back into them. So, we need to help strengthen their resolve before unleashing them to pursue others. I am not saying they shouldn’t witness to others. I am saying they should be prepared to do so.

This does not give you an excuse to keep your faith to yourself. We are commanded to go witness to the world. But the Lord wants us to guard ourselves against the wiles of the devil. He knows our weaknesses and will throw everything he can at us to distract us or bring us down. Prepare yourself and be faithful to share.

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me life more abundant.

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THE QUALITIES OF A GODLY WOMAN

1 TIMOTHY 3:11

“Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.”

Okay, I didn’t write this verse. I am just reading the next verse in 1 Thessalonians 3. Paul wrote this to the women in the Thessalonian church, but it applies to all women who profess Christ as Savior. We see four qualities in the verse – dignified, not malicious gossips, temperate and faithful. We don’t have the time or space in this short devotion to go into each in depth, so let’s just look at one. How about not being malicious gossips? After all, men are just as bad about that.

So, what does that mean? It means someone who is a back-biter, who unjustly accuses to bring someone down. Not a very nice person. Do you know anyone like that? There are some people who are JUST like that. They are people to avoid at all costs. You can’t trust them because before you know it, they will spreading rumors about you or lying about you.

APPLICATION

You are going to have to deal with this, for sure. Children can be very cruel to each other. Now, I’m not saying your children are cruel (they may be) but they may be the victim of another child’s cruelty. We naturally want to make ourselves look better than others. Pride and arrogance are part of our fleshly nature. Children, therefore, will go that route if left unchecked.

How do we teach them to not gossip, to not tear down, to not put themselves over others? By showing them the model we have in Christ and by modeling it ourselves. They will never learn how to walk like Jesus unless they see you doing the same. They will watch you and learn how to treat others. They will watch you and learn how to speak only in kindness and truth. 

Will you do that? Will you only speak in kindness and truth? Will you cease gossiping? Will you only build up others? Do you remember the old saying, “What Would Jesus Do?” Then do it.

Help me, Lord, hold my tongue. Help me to say only things that build up. Let me see myself as second to everyone for the sake of seeing some come to Christ.

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