Micah; Jesus Is King

Chapter five contains a beautiful prophecy about the coming Messiah. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the words God inspired Micah to write. But, actually, I see Jesus and the Church throughout this precious book, not just in chapter five.

Jesus, our Rock, our Foundation, our Shepherd, the One the Old Testament prophets told us about, our eternal King. God, who is not willing that any should perish, did what the blood of thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil could not do when Jesus died once and for all. We Gentiles joined the remnant of Israel to form the Church, the eternal spiritual kingdom of God.

There is war in this spiritual kingdom. There are severe consequences for sin. But we win because Jesus is the Victor!

Yes, our hearts should be broken over present sin in the world and the judgment that is coming. God is serious about sin in the world, in the nation, and in our individual hearts.

But as for me I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right, He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. (7:7-9)

And so will you, if you know Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus the Christ.

Jonah; Wake Up

There are so many important lessons tucked into these four short chapters of Jonah. Please read it for yourself before you read the rest of this post, and let God speak to your heart about obedience, about evangelism, about attitudes toward the unsaved, about Jesus. He will tell you what you need to know. I’d like to share what God pointed out to me, but don’t let this be the only thing you get out of this amazing book today.

You know the story. God tells Jonah what to do. Jonah thinks he has a better idea. On his way to do “missionary work according to Jonah,” he and everyone onboard the ship are met with a violent storm. The ship is being tossed about. It is in imminent danger. Everyone on board is facing death. And what is Jonah doing while God’s judgment is being poured out?

HE IS SLEEPING! (1:5)

He is sleeping! He’d removed himself from the rest of the passengers and crew, hid below deck, and fell asleep. Do you see what I see?

Do you see too many Christians who hide within the walls of a church, who serve on church committees, sing in the church choir, give generously to the church, but can be described as sleeping while the rest of the world is facing judgment?

It wasn’t until Jonah woke up, dealt with his own sin, and obeyed God that, not only the people onboard the ship were saved, over 100,000 people of Nineveh were saved as well.

I’d like to shout, “Wake up, Church!” But the Church isn’t reading my blog. You, however, are.

God is telling you and me to go to Nineveh, to go into our communities, to talk to our neighbors about their need of the Savior. You might think you have a better idea. You might think that being involved in a church is enough.

But maybe it’s time we woke up and did what we are told.

Obediah; There is Hope

I can’t help but think of the sweet reunion between Esau and Jacob as recorded in Genesis 33. A lot had gone down between the two, but when the brothers met after years of separation, they hugged and kissed each other. It seemed all was forgiven. It seemed they would finally live in peace.

If you know their history, you know peace was short-lived. That makes me sad.

Obadiah tells the descendants of Esau that judgment is coming because of their hatred for and mistreatment of Jacob’s family, the family God chose above all other nations to be His instrument. Edom will be punished for rejecting God.

Once again I am reminded how serious God is about being obeyed, about being honored as the only true God. All other religions are doomed to destruction.

But I love how God, even after rendering a death sentence for sin, points to the Messiah. No one has to die in their sin. There is hope. There is salvation through the blood of Jesus for anyone who believes.

The kingdom is the Lord’s. I pray you are a citizen.

Amos; The Day of the Lord

Years ago, the church I was affiliated with adopted the slogan, “Bring Back the King.” Amos tells us why that just might be dangerous thinking.

We Christians know without a doubt that we will live in heaven for eternity. For some, that assurance spurs them on to tell others so that they can have the same assurance through the blood of Jesus. For others, that sense of security creates a complacency. And that is what God addresses through Amos.

I don’t want to debate end-times events here, because there are differing opinions based on the same Scripture, and that’s not what God has laid on my heart today. But I think God is addressing one such opinion through Amos. I know many believe that God will rapture the Church before things get really bad here on planet Earth. Others believe the Church will go through the great suffering before the rapture. But often, when people talk about the pre-tribulation rapture, it is usually said with thanksgiving, and a sigh of relief. “Whew! We’re gonna dodge that bullet. Praise the Lord.”

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? (6:18-20)

If the Church is raptured before a time of great suffering, and you’re ok with that – shame on you. Have you no compassion for the multitudes of people for whom Jesus died, but still don’t know Him, who will die in their sins and suffer eternity in hell?

“Oh,” some will say, “people will still get saved after we’re gone.” Does believing that give you an excuse to throw up your hands, and pray for the Day of the Lord while staring at your phone, trying to get to the next level on that all-important game you are playing?

God has a lot more to say through the shepherd/prophet Amos about judgment and sin, about restoration and grace. But God is speaking to me today about my own level of concern for lost people. Because judgment is coming, and we deserve it.

I don’t know when Jesus will return. I don’t know if the world will experience that great suffering the Bible talks about with or without the Church in its midst. But personally, I’m not going to pray for “The Day of the Lord,” or to “Bring Back the King” and not do everything I can while I am still able, to go, make disciples, share the good news of Jesus Christ before it’s too late.

Because Jesus is not willing that anyone die without Him. I shouldn’t be, either.

Joel; Only One Exit

A new trend these days is the “Escape Room.” These fun houses are popping up everywhere. Have you tried it? I confess I have not, although I think it sounds like fun. You and a few friends are locked in a room together. The clock is ticking, and you must find and follow the clues that will eventually open the door before time runs out. Of course, you are in no real danger. It’s you against the clock. But I can imagine the adrenaline rush as time ticks down.

I thought about that today as I read the book of Joel this morning. God is being very explicit as He inspires Joel to describe what was ahead for His disobedient children. Judgment is coming. It’s inevitable. And it’s ugly.

But within this book are the clues that can open the exit door:

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart…” (2:12)

God goes on and tells His people to fast, weep, repent, because God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (2:13)

Someone has said you can’t flee from God’s judgment, except by fleeing to Him.

I hope you’ll read Joel today. It’s only three chapters. Hear God tell you that sin will be judged, and the consequences are devastating. Then hear Him tell you He’d much rather pour out His Spirit on you, to shower you with Living Water, and pardon your sins once and forever.

If you’ve never admitted you are a sinner, asked God to forgive you, and turned from your former way of life, I pray you’ll do that today. Judgment is coming. That’s a fact. And there is only one exit door.

His name is Jesus.

Hosea 6-14; Take Words With You

The book of Hosea is a picture of unfaithfulness and judgement. But it is also a picture of God’s grace and mercy. It is so beautiful.

I would encourage you to read Hosea and ask God to speak to you about your own walk with Him. What was true concerning a group of people known as Israel or Ephraim in Hosea’s day, carries with it spiritual truth for us in 2018. I read these chapters today and replaced any reference to “Israel” with my name. It became very personal, because what God said to the Jews through Hosea, He is saying to me. I love God’s Word!!

When I read verses like 5:4, I ask myself if there are things I am doing that do not permit me to draw near to God. Do I have a spirit of prostitution in my heart by harboring hatred or unforgiveness, by holding on to a “secret” sin and telling myself it’s no big deal? Are there times I am more concerned about my “self” than about God?

I hear God say He hates His wicked children. (9:15) HATES! Do I give God reason to hate me because of my own disobedience? That is a sobering thought. Hosea reminds me God rejects the unfaithful.

But then I also read verses like 6:6 and realize God wants only to love me, to show me mercy. Look at 10:12:

Sew for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love…

Doesn’t that encourage you to sew righteousness by putting on Jesus’ righteousness? Don’t you hunger for the fruit of God’s unfailing love? I do.

When I read 14:2 I had to stop a minute and think what it means to “take words with you” as you approach God. God is not asking for an animal sacrifice. He’s not asking me to go to church, give to the poor, or be a good neighbor. What He’s asking is that I come to Him purposefully, repentant, and say the words, “Forgive me,” and mean it.

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: Forgive all (my) sins and receive (me) graciously, that (I) may offer the fruit of (my) lips. 

It goes on to say God wants me to realize nothing else can save me. Nothing and no one but God Himself.

What is the result of such a prayer, of a heart that is honest before my Holy God? Hosea tells me He will heal my waywardness and love me freely! (14:4) God will give me everything I need to be fruitful. (14:8)

Then listen to the way God inspired Hosea to end his book.

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. (14:9)

I want my walk with the Lord to be intentional, honest, and fruitful. When I go to Him, I want to go with the words He wants to hear. And I want to mean them from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Hosea 1-5; The Allure

We know God disciplines His children. You probably know that all sin comes with consequences. But Hosea reminded me something today about God I’d like to pass on to you.

You remember, Hosea, don’t you? He’s the prophet God told to marry a prostitute as an example of God’s relationship with His people. I kind of feel bad for Hosea, because I think he might have loved the unfaithful woman. Then I remember – I am that unfaithful woman, and God is the One who loves me still.

Make no mistake about it: God hates sin. He never condones sin or ignores it. Every sin comes with a death penalty. God is a just, and harsh judge. But there is a side to God we might sometimes either overlook or misinterpret. That is His mercy.

God, through Hosea,  calls out His children, exposes our nakedness, our depravity, and God tells it like it is – we have turned our backs on Him. We deserve it if He turns His back on us.

But I want you to notice 2:14. After exposing Israel’s sin, God says this:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. (emphasis mine)

I love that so much. I would expect God to say, after expressing how He looks at our sin… “Therefore I’m done with you!” Instead, God in His mercy says, “You’ve done awful things, You have sinned, turned Your back on me, defied Me. So I’m going to court you, and woo you back to me.”

“Here I  am,” He says. “Love Me. I love you.”

That allure can occur as you read His Word, or in answered prayer, in the changed life of a believer, in a hint of joy in sorrow, in unexpected blessings, or any number of reminders of God’s love in your life. Those sweet whispers from God are personal and intimate. Don’t miss God’s repeated attempts to woo you, to entice you to come to Him.

Because God doesn’t want you to live – or die – without Him. Just don’t mistake God’s tenderness for acceptance. His mercy has conditions.

Please know, if you accept Him on His terms, His mercy and grace are yours! Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and for mine. And God only wants you to accept it.

I want to share what Matthew Henry had to say about this:

“Those who will not deliver themselves into the hand of God’s mercy cannot be delivered out of the hand of his justice.” (Commentary in One Volume, Zondervan Publishing, 1961; page 1107)

Pay attention to God’s attempts to allure you, whether it’s to find Him for the first time, or to draw you closer to Him as His child. There is no one He loves more than you.