Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Discipline, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Mercy, Scripture

CUT WORMS

JONAH 4:7

“But God designated a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered.”

I have mentioned several times in my blogs about my gardens that I have had in the past. I loved gardening, especially raised bed gardening. There is just something about planting something, watching it grow and then enjoying the harvest. I wish I had a spot to garden today. I would definitely do it again. But one thing I do not miss is those infernal cut worms. Those worms can literally cut your plants down overnight. They attack the stem and chew it right into. The next morning there is your plant, flat on the ground.

Jonah experienced that. God had appointed a plant to grow up in one day to cover Jonah. He had enjoyed the shade it provided. Then, just as quickly, it was gone. What he perceived as “deserved” was suddenly gone. Now, take note here. God has appointed a large fish, a plant and now a worm. God can truly use anything to send us a message. He commands His creation to this day.

APPLICATION

God was trying to get His message across to Jonah. He was not done yet. There is more to come. Why do you think Jonah was not receiving it? Do you think he was a little hard-headed? Sounds just like us, doesn’t it? We are no better than Jonah. We think we have it all figured out. We think we know better than God. If I was God, I would do this. Really?

Now, we may not say that out loud, but our actions speak louder than words. We ignore His precepts. We avoid godly counsel from friends. We go our own way and expect God to bless us. Well, beloved, that is not how it works. God will get our attention if He has to use a fish, plant or worm to do it.

As for me, I prefer to hear from God through His Word and through prayer. That is a lot less painful. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I want to at least go down swinging. I want my mistakes to truly be that – mistakes. I want to try to live for Him every day. I still have to deal with sin while I live in this fallen world. I know that. But I want to be able to say honestly to the Lord, “Today, I am going to follow You.” How about you?

Thank You, Father, for making my path clear. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the surest with You as my guide.

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Confession, Discipline, Distress, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAYERS HEARD

JONAH 2:7

“‘While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.’”

I have heard of some incredible answers to prayer. I am sure you have also. Some of those answered prayers are just about too good to believe. If I had not known the person and situation personally, I would have never believed it. But God has a way of making believers out of unbelievers, doesn’t He?

Don’t forget our scene – Jonah is still in the belly of that fish. He’s been praying to God for the several verses. In the written book we have what may seem to be a short prayer. This prayer may have been given over that three-day period. Here in today’s verse, he is fainting away. I am assuming he must be towards the end of those three days. No water, no food, no light! He is week and feeble, yet he prays, “and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.” Wow!

APPLICATION

Even in your lowest hour, when you are at your weakest. None of us have been where Jonah was. So, we can surely pray to the Lord. We don’t have seaweed and stuff floating around us. But we may have other things trying to drown out our access to our holy God. We can’t let anything distract us from praying.

God is always listening, no matter where we are. We must not forget that God placed Jonah in the belly of that fish for a reason. He places us in our “fish’s belly” for a reason also. He wants to draw all our attention to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to not learn my lessons in a fish’s belly. I want to walk in obedience and do what the Lord asks me to begin with. I have still got a lot to learn about obedience, but I am trying. I am listening. Are you? Or are you content to wallow around in your “fish’s belly”?

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me obedience. I want to learn quickly and do exactly what You tell me.

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Attention, Boasting, Commands, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

REVEALED

JONAH 1:9

“So he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’”

I met with a young man recently for the first time. We had only briefly met earlier at a local restaurant, so I did not know anything about him. When we met, I asked him to share his background with me. Why? So, I could get to know him a little better. I needed to understand where he had come from.

After lots were cast and Jonah had been questioned by the sailors as to who he was, Jonah finally begins to reveal himself to them. He said, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and dry land.” In other words, Jonah was saying he knew who was behind this storm. That was not welcomed news.

APPLICATION

Have you been revealed? Do others know anything about you. After my new friend shared his background with me recently, I felt like I knew him better. I understood where he was coming from. With that information, I could help direct him in the right direction, perhaps.

Revealing ourselves is difficult. It is especially dangerous when we aren’t sure how we will be affected. We open ourselves up to ridicule and shame. But we have to remember that Jesus revealed Himself even though He knew what the result would be. No one has ever revealed themselves as clearly as Christ.

I am pretty picky as to whom I reveal myself. Trust is not something I give away easily. It has to be earned. That can be earned quickly, as with this new friend I just made. Or it may take some time. But revealing myself is something I must do. That draws others to Jesus. Would you reveal yourself to someone today and share how the Lord has led you?

I am forever grateful, Lord, for You revealing Yourself to me. Help me to do the same for others.

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Attention, Bible, Busyness, Calling, Commands, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

THE WORD OF THE LORD

JONAH 1:1

“The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,”

“I give you my word.” We’ve probably heard those words spoken to us a lot over the years. Someone is trying to get you to side with them about something. Perhaps someone is trying to convince you of the reliability of something they are selling you. Whatever the reason, we may just not believe their word is reliable.

BUT…when God says those words, you can take it to the bank. It is dependable. Here, in Jonah 1:1, we see “the word of the LORD came to Jonah.” Don’t read those words and move on. Stop to think about that. The word of the Lord – now that’s something. God spoke to Jonah. He had something to say.

APPLICATION

Is God talking to you? You know, He has something to say to each and every one of us. We just have to be listening in order to hear it. That’s our problem. We are so busy, we don’t hear Him. We don’t hear Him telling us to do this or that. We go on our merry way without regard to the Master’s words.

God doesn’t waste His breathe. When He speaks, it is with purpose. God always has a reason behind His words. When He says “Go” we need to go. He’ll tell us where when it’s time. When He says “Give” reach into the back pocket of the guy in front of you and give like you never have. Just kidding. But we need to give “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Listen for God’s word to you today. You can hear Him in His Word as you study. You can hear Him in your prayer time (stop talking and listen). But then, when you hear Him, DO WHAT HE SAYS!!! Amen?

Father, I want to hear Your word today. I want to hear Your instructions for my life.

Check out our ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Attention, Bible, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Listening, Obedience, Scripture

THE LORD HAS SPOKEN

Amos 3:8

A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can do anything but prophesy?

My dad was a pretty reasonable father. But there was one thing I remember about him. When he decided something, that was it. When he laid down the law, he meant to enforce it. There wasn’t any negotiation happening regarding our upbringing. He made sure we knew what he expected, because what he said he meant. When Jack Willis spoke, you could bet on it.

Amos says the same thing here about the Lord. He simply says, “The Lord has spoken.” That was similar to the parable he says first in this verse. “A lion has roared! Who will not fear?” When the Lord speaks, that settles it. There used to be a bumper sticker around that read “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” But that is wrong. It should simply read “God said it, that settles it.”

APPLICATION

So the question is have you heard the Lord. You see, He is always speaking. The problem is our ears. They are so full of the world that we can’t hear Him. We get distracted and pulled away from any place where we can hear Him. Why do we let that happen when we say we are His followers? We can’t follow Him if we aren’t listening for Him.

I was recently in Kenya and remarked how amazed I was at all the sheep and goats that were seemingly just wandering around. I asked my Kenyan brother I was with at the time how the owners kept up with them. He told me that the sheep and goats know where home is and return there every evening. They always stay within earshot of their owner.

Don’t you wish we were as smart as these sheep and goats? We wander off and forget to stay within earshot of our Master. We drift away and forget His voice. All time time, He is calling for us. When the Lord speaks He means us to hear Him. God doesn’t waste His words. He isn’t blowing hot air. He means what He says and says what He means. Let’s all open our ears.

Forgive me Father for not listening for You and to You. I need Your guidance in my life.

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Advice, Attention, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Prophesy

WILL IT COME TRUE?

JOEL 2:30

“‘I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke.’”

Have you ever had someone tell you something that was going to happen in the near future? It seems so outlandish that it could never come true. But they promise they have the inside scoop, and it’s going to happen. Perhaps they knew you were going to get a promotion at work or a big raise. How do you react?

Joel is beginning another prophesy that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24. God has often displayed signs in the sky. Rainbows, pillar of fire, cloud to lead the people, star in Bethlehem, and even a host of angels. These signs often pronounce judgment. Other times a great announcement. For Judea, it was a warning.

APPLICATION

What kind of sign has the Lord given you? None you say! Well, I don’t know about that. The Lord is always pointing His children towards godliness. He wants you to live that way and will show you how, if you will just stay alert. Holy living is what He desires from us. He even commands that of us.

But back to the signs in the sky. Read ahead in Joel 2:31-32 and see what Joel says here on behalf of the Lord. If that were to happen today, would you be ready? How would you react if the sun and the moon began to change? Would you freak out and run for cover? Listen, beloved, we have nothing to fear. Our sins have already been covered by the blood of the Lamb.

I am so grateful that nothing that is prophesied in Scripture scares me. I am anxiously awaiting the Rapture. I know I will be with Him when He returns after the tribulation. I know I will be reigning with Him in the new heaven and earth. I am confident of that. Are you?

Father, I praise You for saving me and giving me the confidence of my salvation.

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Attention, Belief, Bible, Christ's Return, Dreams, Eternity, God's Will, Prophesy, Visions

PROPHESY

JOEL 2:28

“‘It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, Your old men will have dreams, Your young men will see visions.’”

A lot of people love to study prophesy. Why is that? Because they want to know what’s coming. We are all curious about the future. Attention!! Spoiler alert!! We win! No matter what prophesy you look at, we are winners. Those of us who are in Christ are guaranteed eternal life. That’s better than winning the lottery.

But here in Joel 2:28, we read a verse that is often quoted and preached. God’s Spirit has been poured out on all mankind through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell mankind. We have read a lot lately of sons and daughters, old men and young men having dreams and visions of Christ. Hallelujah! He is near.

APPLICATION

Let me step out on a limb here. I want to ask you a question that you may think is … well, out there. Are you ready? Have you had any dreams and visions lately? Is God speaking to you in this way? God is still talking to us. He speaks to us through His Word. He speaks to us in our prayers. And He still speaks to us in dreams and visions.

Now before you stop reading, let me explain. I am not suggesting that you seek these. God speaks when He is ready. And He doesn’t expect you to start a new church or denomination based on dreams and visions. These come to direct us. I would dare say that the majority of the time these come to us and are meant to be kept private. Just listen to Him.

The Lord has given all the prophesies necessary to lead us toward understanding the future. It really all comes down to trust. Do you trust Him? He may be trying to speak to you right now. He wants to speak into your life. Listen! He wants to whisper in your ear the truths of life. Listen!

O Father, I am listening. Speak to me through Your Word, though my prayers and yes, Lord, even through dreams and visions, if that is what it takes for me to hear Your voice.

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Advice, Attention, Bible, Calling, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Salvation, Testimony, Witnessing

LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

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