Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Bitterness, Deceit, Forgiveness, God's Will, Mercy, Scripture

RATIONALIZATION

JONAH 4:2

“Then he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore, in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.’”

Rationalization! Do you know what that means? It is “the action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.” People do it all the time. I have seen people rationalize drunk driving (well, I had to get home where I would be safe). People use it to justify their anger (If he/she wouldn’t act that way, I wouldn’t get mad).

Jonah is rationalizing his anger. He thinks he is justified in his anger. He is basically saying, “God, I told you so. I knew You would be merciful.” Jonah wanted these people gone. Remember, they were the enemy of Israel. They were hated by Israelites. Jonah felt his anger was justified because of what they had done to his nation.

APPLICATION

Be careful what you rationalize. Be careful of the behaviors or attitudes that you think are okay. The world today allows just about anything. In some states in the U.S., criminals are arrested and let go with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. They rationalize their behaviors because of the lax justice system. “If they don’t care what I do, why should I?”

Rationalization can be very dangerous. We only have one true way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Do you know what that is? It is God’s Word. I am currently in a country where only a few decades ago, communism reigned. That government justified all its actions on their belief that it was “best” for the people. Ask those who lived through if they think that was best. Not hardly.

I will trust the Lord to show me how to rationalize the things around me. I will follow His lead. If the Lord says it’s right, it’s right. Jonah could have stopped and just asked the Lord why He decided to forgive the Ninevites. God would have probably gladly told him. Don’t be a Jonah. Don’t rationalize your behaviors. Go to the Lord.

Forgive me, Lord, when I try to justify my attitude or behaviors. If I line up my life with Your Word, I know I will be just fine.

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Advice, God's Will, Bible, Scripture, Faith, Salvation, Redemption, Judgment, Battles, Darkness, Anger, Bitterness

MAD AT GOD

JONAH 4:1

“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”

Have you ever been mad at God? Maybe something didn’t go your way, so you blamed God. Perhaps you got sick and suffered greatly, so you got angry and refused to talk to Him. Maybe you lost a loved one prematurely, so, of course, it’s God’s fault. You are not alone. We’ve all done it at some point, I guess. Even Jonah!

Nineveh repents of their sins, and God spares them. Jonah should have been jumping up and down and claiming a victory for Jehovah. But Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites. He would have been just as happy if they had been wiped off the face of the earth. You know what? I don’t think God was too concerned that He “displeased Jonah.” God was looking at the big picture.

APPLICATION

What application do you see in this passage? One that I see is something a friend of mine used to say. “There is a God and I’m not Him.” I do not know the mind of God. I do not understand why He does the things He does. It is not for me to know. If He wants me to know, He’ll tell me. Until then, I trust His sovereign hand and serve Him.

Another thing I learn is it is okay to get mad at God. God did not strike Jonah dead because of his anger. If He had, Jonah 4:1 would be the end of the book, but it is not. We have ten more verses to see how God handles this anger of Jonah. God knows we are but dust. He understands the limitations of our minds and our mercy. But He will teach Jonah something.

I have to admit that I have been mad a God before. When I went through my chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant, I had a few days when I was angry. I didn’t lash out at Him, but I just didn’t talk to Him for a few days. I wanted out of this misery I was in and saw no escape. I knew and believed God could have healed me instantly, if He had wanted to, if that had been His plan. But He chose to leave me in the fire a little longer. I understand now, but back then I didn’t. I learned to talk to Him and just spill my guts. He can handle it. There is nothing you can’t tell Him. Talk to Him today.

I praise You, Father, for not getting angry at my anger towards You. Hold me close and remind me how much You love me.

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Advice, Bible, Boasting, Brokenness, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HUMBLE LEADERS

JONAH 3:6

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, removed his robe from himself, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the dust.”

I have been fortunate in my ministry to have worked for some very humble men. Humility is a trait that goes a long way with me. If someone is arrogant and too sure of themselves, I will give them plenty of room. Those traits drag me down. But being led by a humble person makes me want to emulate them. I truly admire that.

The king of Nineveh lowered himself to the same level as his people. He didn’t think himself too good to hear the message which reached his ears. The word for “word” here isn’t just referring to Jonah’s message. It is also referring to the response of the people that was reported to him. He removed his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat in the dirt. That’s humbling yourself.

APPLICATION

Are you humble? If you answered “yes,” you probably aren’t, lol. We have a choice about humility. We can humble ourselves or be humbled. I prefer the former. If I humble myself, someone else may exalt me. But if I exalt myself, I may get humbled. Jesus said the same thing when He referred to coming as a guest to a meal. He said sit at the end of the table and let the host move you up.

The question then arises. How do you show yourself humble? Putting others before yourself is one way. Serving someone less fortunate than you is another. How about keeping your mouth shut in that business meeting even when you know you have the right answer? It’s not easy being humble.

Humility is spoken of all through Scripture. Let me encourage you to do a word study on humility. Do you know what that means? Find a good concordance or go to a good website like Biblehub.com and do a search. Take some time to study those passages that speak on humility. Search your own heart and see how you measure up. We all have room to improve with humility.

O Lord, I want to be humble before You and men. Help me keep my heart broken before You.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Darkness, Promises, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

SEAWEED WRAPS

JONAH 2:5

“‘Water encompassed me to the point of death. The deep flowed around me, seaweed was wrapped around my head.’”

Did you know there are spas that specialize in seaweed wraps? Can you imagine having your body wrapped in seaweed and lying there on a table? I’ve only been to one spa in my life. That was for a massage. It was okay, but not good enough to get me to go back.

I don’t think Jonah would agree that being wrapped in seaweed is a good thing. Here he is in the belly of fish praying to God. He is lying in a pool of seawater and seaweed, and he is not sure of his outcome. Remember that while he is lying there, the fish’s stomach acids are beginning to bleach his skin. He can probably smell those acids. He’s in the dark praying to the only one who can rescue Him.

APPLICATION

We all have stuff “wrapped around” our heads. We find ourselves in the dark, feeling the burn of our circumstances. What do you do? Who do you turn to? Many of us just continue to struggle and fight. We think we can release ourselves. We can “figure it out.” Men, we are the worst. We don’t want to ask for help.

But, just like Jonah, we can’t get out of our circumstances by ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus is the answer. He has the power to lift us up out of that miry clay. He can remove the seaweed that is wrapped around our head. Stop fighting and turn to Him.

I am thankful the Lord has rescued me. I was deep in the bottom of the barrel. He scrapped me up, cleaned me off and set me on the firm foundation. He can do the same for you. Stop wherever you are today and reach out to Jesus. He is reaching out for you.

How can I say thanks for all You have done for me? I am thankful for my salvation and my life in You.

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Advice, Advocate, Asking, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Scripture, Wisdom

GOD, YOU’RE RIGHT

JONAH 1:14

“Then they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life, and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, LORD, have done as You pleased.’”

Many times in our lives we wrestle with a decision, so we cry out to God. Psalm 118:5 comes to mind. “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” This Psalmist understood where to go. We should learn a lesson from this. Cry out to Him.

The sailors had tried everything to not do what Jonah told them to do to him (throw him into the sea). Now, they have been driven to Jehovah God to beg forgiveness for the action that was about to take place. God used a raging sea to draw these men to Him. These pagan sailors were about to see God in action.

APPLICATION

Don’t wait until you are knee deep in life’s cesspool before you cry out to God. He sent His Son Jesus to rescue you from all that. We must have the wisdom to pursue our God in all circumstances. That wisdom only comes through the reading and studying of God’s Word.

That Word must transform your mind so the first thing you think about when you are going through that hard time is the Word. What would the Word say do? What verse comes to mind? A friend of mine says, “Scripture memory gives the Holy Spirit a vocabulary to speak to us personally at any time or place. Since the Lord can use scripture we have put to memory, we can trust His communication with us.”

I am thankful for the scriptures I have memorized. They serve me well when I am in distress, or I encounter someone else in distress. That happened yesterday and I was able to share God’s Word with them without even opening a Bible. I had it stored in my heart and mind. Will you spend some time today memorizing a passage?

Thank You, Lord, for the Word. Thank You for using all those authors over all those years to tell Your story.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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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, Advice, Belief, Bible, Calling, Devil, Direction

DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

AMOS 9:7

“‘Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, you sons of Israel?’ declares the LORD. ‘Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?’”

At times our actions have little to no meaning to us. We do things because we have always done things. We get up, get dressed, go to work, come home and go to bed, only to repeat it all the next day. Our life has lost all meaning. That is not a good place to be.

Israel had reached a point when their lives seemed to have no meaning. All that God had done for them had been forgotten. They had no connection with their God because they had wandered away. Their claim that God had brought them up out of Egypt fell on deaf ears because their lives now rejected Him. That uniqueness that was theirs as God’s chosen nation had been reduced to rubble.

APPLICATION

Have you lost your life’s meaning? Do you feel you don’t really matter anymore? Those are both of the devil. He doesn’t want you to know your purpose in life. He doesn’t want you to walk in victory. He wants to sow discord and despair into your lives so you won’t be walking with Jesus.

If he can get just one more believer to doubt himself, he has won. We will walk in defeat. We will be no better than those Israelites who rejected God and turned to their own selves. This is a sure way to be defeated. God cannot lead us if we aren’t following Him.

If you have ever tried to follow another car in a caravan, you know it is important to keep that car in your sight. You can’t follow what you can’t see. You can’t follow God if you can’t see God. We see God in His Word and in our prayer time. How is that going for you today? Will you commit to the Lord today?

I am so thankful, Lord, that You are leading me. Help me follow closely.

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Abiding, Advice, Battles, Bible, Busyness, Commitment, Encouragement, Fear, Scripture

EARTHQUAKE

AMOS 8:8

“Because of this will the land not quake, and everyone who lives in it mourn? Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, and it will be tossed about and subside like the Nile of Egypt.”

When my daughter was a little girl, I would often wake her in the mornings with an “earthquake.” I would put a hand on the bed on each side of her and start shaking very slightly. I would gradually shake her stronger until she was literally bouncing off the bed. She loved it (well, at least most mornings she did, lol).

Amos uses the imagery of an earthquake causing the earth to rise and fall, like the Nile River rose and fell. The undulations of the earth would be felt through the whole nation. There would be no mistake of what was happening. Fear would be rampant.

APPLICATION

Has God shaken your world yet? We all need our world shaken. Now, I don’t mean a physical earthquake. I’m referring to a spiritual earthquake. We need to be so shaken that nothing remains as it was. Everything is rearranged.

We tend to have our priorities messed up most of the time. We put so many things above God. We delegate God to the time we have left in the day. God deserves the best part of our day. He deserves to be first on our agenda. Everything else comes behind Him.

The only way I can do that is to get up early in the morning. If I don’t spend my time with Jesus then, I get sidetracked and busy, and He loses His spot. I am not saying everyone should get up at 4 a.m. and pray. Most of us would be asleep by 4:03, lol. But you have to find that time when it’s set aside for God. God will honor you with His presence, I promise.

I look forward to spending time with You, Lord. You have truly shaken my world for the better.

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Advice, Beauty, Belief, Bible, Creation, Exalting, Glory, Inspirational

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

AMOS 8:2

“And He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will not spare them any longer.’”

There are many advantages to getting older. Senior coffee and discounts, senior matinees at the theater, etc. But one disadvantage is your eyesight. Almost everyone has some loss of vision as they age. That plus two stem cell transplants (chemotherapy) have really changed my eyesight. Thank God for glasses, lol.

God wasn’t giving Amos an eye exam. He wasn’t asking him to read the letters and numbers on a chart. The Lord was giving him a message to share with Israel. He wanted to make sure Amos saw clearly what He was telling him. He wanted his hearing of the message to be reinforced by a vision.

APPLICATION

God often shows us things that we just don’t see. Take for instance, a sunrise. How many of them have you seen in your lifetime? But how often do you stop and thank God for seeing another day? God’s message to us is love. He shows us that love in so many ways, but we often fail to see it.

Let me challenge you to do something. Start taking note of “God sightings.” Those are times when you are made aware of God in something or when there is no other explanation for something. Write those down and put them in a box or jar. At the end of the year, read them. You will be amazed.

I see God in my wife, my children, my grandchildren and even in my “grandpups.” God’s creativity in forming each uniquely amazes me. Take a break and people watch. Look at all the faces God has made. It’s really unbelievable. Yet, God never stops creating. I thank God for that today. Yes, God, I see.

I praise You for eyes that can see. Help me see as You do.

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