Abiding, Belief, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Distractions, Enemies, Fear, God's Will, Gospel, Obedience, Scripture

A LARGE PLACE

JONAH 3:3

“So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk.”

I’ve been to some big cities – New York City, London, Nairobi, Minneapolis. I could go on. Fortunately, I did not have to walk to them. I had a car or another mode of transportation. But you know, I seldom thought about how big those cities were or too much about all the thousands of people in them who needed to hear about Jesus. I usually was on a mission to get something accomplished and didn’t want someone or something to slow me down. I repent of that. That was wrong.

Jonah was now going to Nineveh, that “exceedingly large city.” It was known for its greatness. Even though it was physically great, it was spiritually weak. The gods the Ninevites worshipped were not gods at all. We know that. Jonah knew that. And he was sent to tell them that.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s think about this for a second. Jonah was sent into enemy territory, to one of their greatest cities, and was told to tell them to repent. He probably expected laughter, at the very least. Jonah may have expected to be arrested and perhaps even killed. Why shouldn’t he expect that? No one likes to be told they are sinners.

But Jonah responded in the positive as fast as he had responded in the negative. He “got up and went” as compared to “got up to flee.” He was ready now to deliver God’s message no matter the cost. How about you? Are you willing to risk it all for Jesus? He may call on you to do just that.

I am finally at a point in my life where I really don’t care if people think I am a little crazy about Jesus. I have seen some amazing things in the past few years which have required me to reexamine how I see the Spirit moving. Living that out may put me at odds with some people. That’s okay, as long as I am true to my Savior’s calling. Will you do the same?

Father God, give me a Nineveh! Show me where you want me to be used.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Gospel, Judgment, Listening, Obedience, Repentance

REPENT

JONAH 1:2

“Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Many years ago, while moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, I was following my wife through the hills of northern Alabama. She had our infant daughter in the car with her, while I was following in the moving truck with our four-year-old son. She was falling asleep and weaving all over the road. In the truck I could not get her attention by flashing my lights or honking my horn. I just knew I was going to watch her drive off the road and down the hill. I was trying to save her, but she wouldn’t listen. (She did finally wake up).

God tells Jonah to go tell the Ninevites how to get saved. He was sending Jonah on a specific mission to a specific people. God had seen “their wickedness” and decided it was time to take action. He wanted to give them the chance to be forgiven and come to Him.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to get someone’s attention about God? Some people are like my wife in that car. They can’t seem to hear the cries from God for them to come to Him. They are locked on to their own path and nothing is going to deter them. They don’t even know they are about to drive off a cliff.

Others God knows are just ripe for the harvest. He has already prepared their hearts. That’s why sometimes it is so easy to lead someone to Christ. They are like the Ninevites – eager to know the truth.

Boy, I am so glad I heard the words of the Lord. I am thankful He has caused me to turn towards Him and receive salvation. I am trying to be more mindful of those opportunities to share the Gospel. I’m not judged by their response. I am judged by God only by my decision to be obedient. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving me and giving the opportunity to share with others.

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

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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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THE RETURN

OBADIAH 19

Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin the territory of Gilead.

My family and I lived in TN in the 90’s. We loved it there, but God moved us to FL for a season. We spent eight years there and then were called back to TN in 2007. It was like coming home. Now, you Floridians, don’t take that wrong. Florida was our home while we were there. But Chattanooga always felt like our real home. Coming back just felt right.

In today’s verse, Obadiah is prophesying the return of Judah to their homeland. Not only would they return, but they would expand their lands. God will always stay true to His children. He may take us to the “woodshed,” as He did Judah, but He will restore.

APPLICATION

You may have a story of God’s restoration power. I know I do. I’ve been through two stem cell transplants for this disease I have (Amyloidosis). Borrowing a miracle, I will face another one in the years ahead. But each time, the Lord has restored my physical health. I am forever grateful for the lessons He taught me each time.

You may have been restored financially or emotionally. But the most important restoration we can have is our spiritual restoration. He promises to bring us from death to life. He gives us a true new life in Christ. He died and we live. Isn’t that incredible.

And just like Judah, when He restores us, He gives us so much more than we had before. I don’t mean physical stuff. I mean spiritual growth. We go from infants needing milk to eating the meat of the Word as we surrender to Him and seek Him daily. It truly is a restoration process in our lives.

Lord, thank You for restoring me. I was dead in my sins and You gave me new life.

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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.

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INCLUSION

AMOS 9:12

“‘So that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the LORD who does this.”

Today we hear a lot about inclusion. No one is to be left out, even if it means lowering the standards that have been set. No one should be excluded because of their gender or sexual preference. Inclusion has become a means in which anyone can claim anything and demand entrance into any place.

Well, God was the first to introduce inclusion to the world, but He had a different definition of the word. He meant it as a means to include everyone in His salvation plan. James, at the Jerusalem council quotes this passage. He says in Acts 15:17,

“‘“SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,”’”

APPLICATION

I am so glad my heavenly Father decided His plan included the Gentiles. I am so thankful He extended His salvation to a young man in Southwest Georgia who had no clue he even needed to be saved. He gave me an eternal salvation and the promise to live with Him forever.

How about you? Have you heard His calling on your life? Have you surrendered your all to Him? He is just waiting. His plan is all inclusive (better than any all inclusive vacation you will ever experience). If you are a believer, then invite others to join you. They will not be disappointed.

Inclusion can be a good thing if we practice what God meant by it. He wants to accept everyone, as far as it relates to salvation. All can come to Him. He wants to use us to help with that. So, we have to get rid of any views that would prevent us from reaching out to a lost and dying world. Do that today.

I am thankful You included me in Your plans for mankind. I am thankful that I can be called by Your name.

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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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DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD

AMOS 7:15

“But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’”

None of us like to be told what to do. As children, our parents told us what to do. In school, teachers told us what to do. When we get a job, our employer tells us what to do. In every part of our life, we are told what to do. But there is one other aspect of our life in which we are told what we should do – our spiritual life.

Amos continues his conversation with Amaziah in verse 15 today. He simply tells him that God had told him to do something, so he did it. It just so happened that this “something” required him to risk it all and prophesy against the nation of Israel and the king, Jeroboam. Amos knew the risk, but he obeyed anyway.

APPLICATION

The difference in all those former times in our lives and God is we are told by Him the dire consequences if we don’t obey. Now for sure, during those other times in lives there may have been consequences for disobedience. But none of them were eternal. That’s a big difference. However, the Lord will help us keep all that He requires. We just have to surrender.

The Lord gave Amos all he needed to go and deliver His message. He will give us all we need. We just have to trust Him. What has He asked you to do? I bet it wasn’t as outrageous as what He told Amos to do. Are you willing to do it? Will you obey?

Yielding to the Master isn’t always easy, but it is always the best decision. I have learned that the hard way. The times when I have fought against the Lord I have always lost. There’s no defeating Him. He will work His Will into your life in one way or the other. It’s so much easier to yield and obey. Will you today?

I am so thankful, Lord, that I have learned to obey. Your lessons are always beneficial for me.

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