Advocate, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Mercy, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

FOLLOW THROUGH

JONAH 3:10

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.

Follow through is a term used in a lot of sports. In golf, it is important to follow through on your swing. That means to not stop halfway through it. In basketball, follow through is applied to your shot of the basketball. Let your arms and hands follow through. And in baseball, follow through is important as a pitcher to get the full action or speed of the ball. Follow through is important.

The people of Nineveh followed through on their acts of humility and repentance. They came to Jehovah God asking for forgiveness, and He granted it. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way…” Their follow through of what they said they would do caused the God of the universe to relent “of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them.” They moved the heart of God.

APPLICATION

Did you know our actions today move God’s heart? When He sees us reaching out to help someone less fortunate, it blesses Him. When He watches us serve our fellow believers in church, He is well pleased. When we give to support a missionary who is serving in some foreign country, God takes that gift and blesses that person.

We don’t do these things to get God to love us, though. That’s not what this is about. God loves us – period. We do all these things because we love Him. We obey the One we love. We want to please Him. We want to see our heavenly Father smile (I’m sure He does). Do all these things just because of all He has done for you.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outdo or outgive God. I do and I give because I want to express my love for Him. His Son was sent to die on that cross to secure my salvation. God wanted me with Him in heaven. Isn’t that awesome? He wants you there also. If you have never asked Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, do that today. Let the journey begin.

Father God, I love You. That’s why I obey You. That’s why I do all that I do in Your name.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Covenant, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Idols

ABANDONMENT

JONAH 2:8

“‘Those who are followers of worthless idols abandon their faithfulness,’”

I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. In all those years, I saw a lot of children who had been abandoned. Abandonment is not a pretty thing. The feelings of loss and neglect are awful. Those who abandon are thinking only of themselves and not the lives they are affecting.

Jonah draws this analogy in referring to those who have abandoned their faith in favor of worthless idols. Those idols (or really those who peddled them) offered sensual or physical pleasures as part of their worship. The people’s hedonistic tendencies led them to choose those idols over true worship. They walked away from God. They abandoned their faith.

APPLICATION

Have you abandoned your faith? Have you tried to find something else to meet your needs? There is nothing else. Just like Jonah said, those things are “worthless.” They have no true meaning, no eternal purpose. They promise all sorts of things but never deliver. They only enslave.

If you have left your faith or it is weaker than it used to be, return to Him now. He will never abandon you. He will always be there. His love is eternal. His support of you will never end. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

So, is your heart completely His? If it is, He promises to “strongly support” you. There is no reason to abandon your faith. If you are struggling right now, turn to Jesus. He can carry you through. I pray you will stay close to Him. Do not abandon!

I will stay with You, O Lord. I know You will never abandon me.

Standard
Advocate, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Grace, Mercy, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

WAVES

JONAH 2:3

“‘For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current flowed around me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.’”

My mom loved the beach. In fact, she convinced my dad, who was no fan of beach life, to buy a small place on the Gulf of Mexico. My mom loved to “jump the waves.” She would not get her hair wet or go in too deep. But she loved to walk in the water and feel the waves break against her body.

Jonah felt the waves and breakers as they passed over him. He seems to quote from Psalm 42:7. “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” There is no escape. Only God’s mercy is sparing his life. Jonah is calling on God as he recognizes His power over him.

APPLICATION

Have you tried to “jump the waves” lately? You may get lucky to begin with, but eventually you tire and the waves get you. You cannot keep up with the current that is pushing against you. You need a rescuer, someone who is strong and powerful. You cannot rescue yourself.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate lifeguard. He is always looking out for our safety. He flies the red flags when He knows there is danger around you. He flies the green flags when it is safe to swim. He has the ability to plunge into the oceans of despair that may entangle you and set you free.

I have known a lot of people who worked as lifeguards. They all had to know how to rescue someone if they were drowning. That might have involved using a hook to pull someone to the side of a pool or throwing a life saving device to someone in the lake or ocean. Jesus has all the tools necessary to rescue us. Has He rescued you?

Father, I am so thankful Jesus tossed me a ring of safety. I am now safe in His arms.

Standard
Advocate, Affliction, Asking, Belief, Bible, Darkness, Distress, Fear, Inspirational, Prayer, Scripture

DISTRESS

JONAH 2:2

and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I called for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.’”

Have you ever been in distress? Through my illness and my two stem cell transplants, I can honestly say there were times I felt in distress. I was in anguish. I felt afflicted. Those were very adverse times. My health was fading, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. All I could do was turn to the Lord.

Jonah was in distress. His words remind me of Psalm 118:5 that says, “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” I find that kind of humorous – “a large place.” Jonah was indeed set in a large place – the belly of a big fish. He probably preferred a different setting.

APPLICATION

When you are in distress, what do you do? Who do you turn to? Some of us turn to alcohol. Others turn to drugs. Some get so involved in church they forget their distress. None of these work. You cannot medicate yourself or busy yourself out of distress. There is only one answer – Jesus.

Even in the belly of that fish, Jonah knew God would hear him. He did not know how God would answer, but at least He knew his prayers were ascending. They were not bouncing off the walls of that belly. We often feel our prayers are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere. Do not doubt the hearing capability of God.

There are so many examples I could give you of how God came through for me during times of distress. He would send a friend to see me in the hospital. He might burden someone to email me or call me. Just call on Him amid your distress. He can work miracles in and through us, if we will just believe.

O Lord, I have called on You many times, and You have always come through for me.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Altars, Bible, God's Will, Hearing, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAY ANYWHERE

JONAH 2:1

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,”

One thing I have learned over the years is I can pray anywhere. I have prayed while being wheeled in for surgery. I have prayed sitting in a deer stand. I have prayed in the middle of a hurricane. I know my God is listening to me wherever I am. He doesn’t care if I am kneeling or standing, with my eyes open or closed. He just wants me to pray.

Jonah prayed “from the stomach of the fish.” Now, I haven’t tried that yet (and I don’t want to). He was truly in a pickle. God had assuredly rescued him from the deeps of the sea by sending the fish, but now what. How was God going to rescue him now? Or maybe He wasn’t. Maybe he was going to meet God with seaweed all over him.

APPLICATION

Pray! Just pray! There are so many passages of Scripture that tell us to pray. Some even tell us how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 is what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Have you read that lately? If not, take a minute and go do that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

How did you like that? Our Lord Jesus showed us how to pray. I think He is a pretty good teacher. He knew how to pray. He knew the value of praying. He did it often, probably much more than is recorded in Scripture.

If you haven’t discovered the joy of praying, you really should try it. It sets you free. And the more you pray, the more you want to pray. You begin to hear His voice so much clearer. He wants to talk to you. Did you know that? Don’t wait to get swallowed by a big fish to begin your prayer time.

I love to talk to You, Lord, and to hear Your voice. Lord, speak!

Standard
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.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Courage, Fear, God's Will, Hiding, Peace, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Storms

CRYING TO THE WRONG GOD

JONAH 1:5

“Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they hurled the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the stern of the ship, had lain down, and fallen sound asleep.”

So many times, we get in a mess and try to figure it out all on our own. Or we enlist the help of others who make things worse. I remember one time I was trying fix something on one of our cars. I struggled for hours to put this part on, but it just would not go on for me. I asked my neighbor for help the next morning. You know what happened? It went on for him on the first try. He had the expertise I didn’t.

These sailors are crying out their gods for help. The problem with that is those gods did not exist. They had no power to calm the storm. This was a God storm. This was one created by Him. Only He could calm it and only when it was time. It wasn’t time yet.

APPLICATION

Who are you crying out to right now? If it is anything or anyone but God, you are wasting your breathe. Why do you think you can’t find the answers anywhere else? Is it pride? Or just plain stubbornness? I know you probably think I am being a bit harsh. I guess I am. I don’t want to offend you, but I do want to move you to the right place.

Jonah was sleeping during this storm not because he was at peace. He was simply ignoring it. He was hiding from God in the stern of the ship, oblivious to what He was doing to get his attention. We do the same thing. We withdraw and hide, pretending the problem will just go away. It won’t.

Thanks be to God that He does not quit. He does not let up. If that storm had calmed down at the cries of those sailors to their gods, they would have thought their gods did it. God was teaching those sailors a lesson as much as He was Jonah. Are you learning anything in your storm?

I hate the storms, Lord, but I do love the peace that comes afterwards. I will trust You through the storm.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Destruction, Devil, Grace, Horror, Rebellion, Rescue, Safety, Scripture, Storms

BREAKING UP

JONAH 1:4

“However, the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to break up.”

I lived in Florida for about eight years and witnessed the destructive power of hurricanes on several occasions. Those storms can literally destroy a city. I have seen homes obliterated. I have seen neighborhoods so damaged you could not tell where the streets were. It is horrifying.

I imagine the storm Jonah and his shipmates faced was like a hurricane. When God sends a storm, He does not mess around. I bet they had 20- and 30-foot waves. The pounding of those waves on the hull of the ship was beginning to break apart the ship. They were taking on water and getting scared.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been that scared? It seemed the waves of life were crashing in all around you. You are taking on water. You look around and there are no lifeboats to jump into. You are panicking. All hope is gone.

And then you come to the Master who can still the seas. No storm is so dark that He cannot walk right through it. No waves are too high that He cannot safely navigate. No vessel is so wrecked that He cannot put it back together better than it was before. Call out to Him!

Wow! This picture of Jonah in that ship sure is vivid. We can all relate to it. We have done the same thing. We have run from God and gotten into more trouble. When we flee in the dark, we are apt to get hurt. We, instead, need to head toward the light. Then our path is exposed. Then He will lead us safely home.

The storm-tossed waves of life are out there, Lord. But with You at the helm, there is no fear.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Heaven, Hope, Refuge, Scripture

REFUGEES

OBADIAH 14

“Do not stand at the crossroads to eliminate their survivors; and do not hand over their refugees on the day of their distress.”

Man, we have all seen the flood of refugees from Ukraine these past few weeks. People are fleeing a war-ravaged land seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Poland, in particular, has welcomed hundreds of thousands. People of all ages, women, children and the elderly are leaving their homes behind to find a safe place to live.

God warned Edom to treat the refugees from Israel (their brothers) with care. They should not mistreat them in any way. They were to not hand them over to their enemies or kill any trying to escape. God cares for those seeking refuge in times of trouble.

APPLICATION

I love Psalm 62:8 which says, “Trust in the Lord, you people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” We are all refugees. We have all left our earthly home to move to that heavenly abode. We seek refuge in the God of the universe. He welcomes all.

A refugee forsakes all to find a new home. They may leave behind homes, businesses, cars, boats – everything. Their hope is in that place they are headed. They are seeking somewhere to call home. We are just the same. We are seeking that home with God.

I am so thankful that my permanent residence is already prepared for me in Glory. I may have a home here on earth, but my permanent dwelling place awaits me. I will make that journey one day and never return. I am ready. Are you?

Take me home, Lord, whenever You are ready. The longer I stay here, the more I long for home.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Calling, Confidence, Encouragement, God's Will, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Redemption, Remnant

A REMNANT

OBADIAH 5

“If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—Oh how you will be ruined!—Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape-pickers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings??

My Uncle Hugh Lee was a produce farmer. He grew large fields of tomatoes and cabbages for the market. Every year, at the end of the season, he let us come out and get all we wanted that was left in the fields. My mom canned the tomatoes for winter and cooked up a big mess of cabbage.

Obadiah is using an analogy of common, everyday life to not only let them know what was coming (judgment), but that there would also be a remnant left to return. God was not done with them yet. He still had plans for His chosen nation. They, however, had to deal with the judgment to come.

APPLICATION

You may be going through a hard time right now. You may feel like the Lord has forgotten you and left you to wander. That is not our God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He must discipline us at times, but He will not leave us there. You can trust that truth.

Where are you right now? Do you need assurance? We all do. That’s normal. But if you are in a pit of despair right now, thinking that God has forgotten you, stop. He knows exactly where you are. Call out to Him today. He hears, even from the deepest pit.

I honestly don’t know what I would do if didn’t have the knowledge that God loves me. I don’t understand why He does, but He does. I certainly don’t deserve it. But He has called me His own. If you are in Christ, so are you. So, today, live like it.

From the deepest valley, you hear my voice when I cry to You, O Lord. I know You are there and ready to rescue Your remnant.

Standard