Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Battles, Belief, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Righteousness, Scripture

WOULD GOD DO THIS? 

MICAH 2:7 

“‘Is it being said, house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient? Are these His works?” Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?’” 

As a pastor and a minister of the Gospel, I have been asked many times why God would allow the death of a loved one or a mass killing. I have also been asked by others why God would allow them to get cancer. I do not have answers to all these questions. I can only point them to Christ. I know He has all the answers. 

The Israelites were asking these questions. Would God really do this? Is God really behind this? God answers through Micah with the last phrase of this verse. “Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?” That is a punch in the mouth, isn’t it? The Hebrew word for “rightly” could be translated uprightly or straight. 

APPLICATION 

You may be one of those people who have questioned God. You may not understand why He has allowed something horrible in your life. Let me tell you something. I understand that. My wife and I lost a little girl, Cathleen, back in 1987. She only lived about six hours. That was hard. There were questions, but God healed our hearts. 

I have also gone through two, count them, two stem cell transplants for treatment of a disease I have. That was not easy either. I prayed to die a couple of times, but God healed me. I am healthier today than I have been in probably a dozen years. As I said earlier, I do not have all the answers, but I do know the One who does. 

I want to encourage you today to lean into Jesus during those hard times. Do not worry about leaning too heavily on Him. He can carry the load. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Do you believe that? Then trust Him. 

O Father, I do not understand all You are doing in my life. I understand You are in control, so I will allow You to lead. 

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Death, Despair, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Grief, Heaven, Mourning, Satan, Scripture

THE ENEMY APPROACHES

MICAH 1:15

“Moreover, I will bring on you the one who takes possession, you inhabitant of Mareshah. The glory of Israel will enter Adullam.”

In times of distress the enemy will attack. I just woke up to discover a dear brother in the ministry lost his sweet, precious wife last night. She died suddenly, leaving a gapping hole in my brother’s chest. We are praying for him, but most especially praying protection over him from the enemy’s attack. We know Satan loves to attack us when we are down.

Assyria was attacking Israel and Judah. “The one who takes possession” refers to the enemy invader. God was allowing the enemy to attack in order to judge His chosen people. He was striving to bring them back to Him, even if it meant severe judgment. But God had not broken His covenant with them. Israel (all 12 tribes) was still His child.

APPLICATION

Our spiritual enemy is powerful and very well armed. He loves to catch us unawares and unprotected. Sudden losses in our lives can shatter us emotionally. When we are in these places, the devil will whisper in our ears that God does not love us, that He does not care about us. Do not believe those lies.

That is why it is so important to cover yourself in God’s Word. Only His Word can get you through those times. This morning, the first passage that came to my mind was 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

My dear brother will be okay. He will get through this. Why? Because I know he loves Jesus and loves His Word which is filled with the promises of God. He knows the Father loves him dearly. He may not understand why He took his bride home now, but he will – eventually. Be on guard my brothers and sisters.

Lord, thank You for Your promises. I know they never fail.

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

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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Abuse, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Encouragement, Scripture

VOMIT

JONAH 2:10

“Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”

I don’t like to vomit. Excuse me for using a biblical word (lol). The disease I have has attacked my stomach and digestive system. Every two to three weeks, I have a bout of vomiting and upset stomach. My doctor says my gut just shuts down and has to “rest” to keep going. I hate it, but that’s my life.

Jonah, on the other hand, wasn’t vomiting. He WAS the vomit. That big ole fish just upchucked him onto dry land. Wow! I bet that changed some beach lovers’ lives. What would you have done if you had seen that? So, here is Jonah, lying in a puddle of fish vomit. Now what?

APPLICATION

Have you ever been puked on? Once, when our family was at a theme park, I got sick on a simulation ride. I puked everywhere. My kids were so embarrassed. But I didn’t do it on anybody. Luckily, I was sitting on the end of the row up front. But people do get vomited on, and I don’t mean physically.

Being mistreated and devalued is like being vomited on. The feeling of being treated unfairly or abusively are hard to shake. You feel like getting a shower to wash off the disgust. But this stuff doesn’t wash off easy. I have the secret ingredient. It is Jesus.

Before Christ we all feel “less than.” We believe we do not really matter. Our lives are not important. But when we come to Christ, He gives us our value. He tells us we matter. He sees us differently – glorified. There is no vomit here. Only love and mercy. Is that something you want? You can have it in Him.I

give You all the praise, Jesus, because You picked me up in my slimy mess, cleaned me off and called me Your child.

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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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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.

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Accountability, Accused, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Direction, God's Will, Obedience, Safety, Scripture

SPLISH, SPLASH

JONAH 1:15

“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”

Have you ever thrown someone into a pool? You know how kids can play. I can remember picking up someone and chunking them, kicking and screaming. It was all in play. No one was intended to be hurt. We laughed and usually did it again.

This was not the case with Jonah. He did not kick and scream. In fact, he probably laid down on the deck of the ship very calmly as the sailors picked him up and threw him in. Can you just see the sailors’ face when the sea stopped raging? They probably instantly went to the side of the ship and looked for Jonah. But he was not there.

APPLICATION

Maybe you’re kicking and screaming right now as God tries to throw you into the deep end of the pool. Does God do that? He certainly does. Most of us don’t go willingly. We may not kick and scream, but we sure argue with God, don’t we? We have all kinds of reasons why His won’t make sense.

I have been thrown into the “deep end” many times. You think I would have learned to go in myself. But no, I am hard-headed. I guess that is why I can relate to Jonah so well. There have been times when God gave me a clear direction, but I went the other direction.

Splash! There I went! Deep end! But I found when I got in that the water was just fine. I did not drown. In fact, I got stronger by learning to swim there. I could not rely on my own strength. I had to have His power to survive. So, I swam and got stronger. Are you still wearing floaties on your arms or are you allowing God to strengthen you in the “deep end?”

Father, Your Will often confuses me. But I know I can trust it because it’s Your Will and not mine.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Protection, Scripture, Storms, Trials

YOU’RE IT

JONAH 1:7

“And each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let’s cast lots so that we may find out on whose account this catastrophe has struck us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.”

I used to hate when we picked teams in elementary school at recess to play a game. Depending on the game, I would get picked early or late. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I was one biggest. So, if it was a speed game, I was usually picked near the end. I usually felt unlucky and undervalued.

Jonah was picked by lot. The soldiers knew something about this storm they were in was divine. They could read storms, and this one didn’t fit their knowledge. So, they turned to casting lots to choose who was at fault, who had offended their god. They still didn’t understand who this God was who was trying to get Jonah’s attention. God even guided the lots, and they fell on Jonah.

APPLICATION

The Lord may have chosen you to go through a trial right now. He has tapped you on the shoulder and said you’re going in. It’s your turn. You’re it. That doesn’t make God a cruel God. It makes Him a specific God. He doesn’t haphazardly call us into these tough situations.

I just got an email from a friend of mine who serves in another country. His young son was hit by a motorcycle while walking home from school. He had a compound fracture to his femur and many cuts and contusions. Why? Why would God allow this? For some reason, God tapped them on the shoulder and chose them for this trial, knowing that going through it with Him would make them more like His son. (Pray for their son Ian).

Every trial we go through will shape us and mold us into His image. God is not trying to maim us or destroy us. That’s the devil’s game. God allows trials to touch us only to draw us closer. Do you trust a God like that? I do. I’ve been there. I’ve seen how He works. Watch Him work in yours.

Lord, thanks for picking me to show others how You work. I many not like the process, but I do like the end result.

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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.

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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.

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