Advice, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Double-minded, Evil, God's Will, Goodness, Knowledge

DO YOU NOT KNOW?

MICAH 3:1

“And I said, ‘Hear now, you leaders of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice?’”

As we grow up, we learn new things. I love to watch a toddler or preschooler learn. Everything is new to them. Little things like putting the square peg in a square hole brings delight and handclaps. As they learn more their knowledge about the world around them grows.

Micah now points his attention to the leaders of Jacob and Israel. He basically says, “You should know what is right and what is wrong! You should, by now, understand justice!” But the sins in their lives had blinded them to right and wrong. They had corrupted not only their lives but also the lives of the people.

APPLICATION

I remember telling my children as they were growing up to learn to recognize good and evil instead of what was right and what was wrong. Why? Because in today’s world what might be right for someone else could be wrong for others. But good and evil are the same everywhere.

The leaders of Israel and Judah had lost their bearings. They had forgotten the goodness of God. They had forsaken their worship and adoration of their Lord. Instead, they turned their attention to pagan idols, as if they could do anything for them. They had led their people down the road to destruction and thought nothing of it.

We are in danger of doing the same unless we recognize and embrace the justice of God. He will always judge correctly. He  knows the difference between good and evil in our hearts. He knows we are not perfect. I love Psalm 103:14 which reads, “For He Himself knows our form; He is mindful that we are nothing but dust.” He knows our frailty. That is why He gave us Jesus. Ask Him, and He will direct you as you navigate this world.

Thank You, Father, for giving me the knowledge through Your Word to know what is good and what is evil, what is right in Your eyes and what is wrong.

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Accountability, Bible, Boasting, Choices, Commitment, Distractions, Following, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH     

MICAH 1:3

“For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.”

My wife and I have good friends who live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They have a view of Pike’s Peak right from their back door. It is breath taking. On a visit out there a few years ago, we drove up the mountain as far as we could. We did not get to the top due to snow. That is a big mountain.

Micah says in today’s verse that God could come down and walk on mountains like Pike’s Peak. For Him, that is nothing. There is no mountain too high for God. Those high places were also the places of idolatry. Micah was declaring God’s judgment on all those who thought themselves too high and mighty.

We cannot see ourselves as high and lifted up. We have no right to do that. Outside of Christ in our lives, we are nothing. Sure, we can be successful in life in the world’s eyes without following Christ. We see that all the time. Just look at the list of the richest people in the world. How many of them are devout believers?

APPLICATION

We are no better than the people of Judah whom Micah is addressing. We are prone to wander. We give lip service to following Jesus, but if something better comes along, we hop right on it. There is no room for other things. Jesus has to be the top priority in our lives.

I strive to make Him first every day. I do pretty good with that unless there is fishing or hunting available. Then I can get sidetracked. Now, there is nothing wrong with those two things. I just cannot let them misplace Jesus. I have to have my Quiet Times and prayer time first. I love Him that much. Will you put Him first in your life today?

Lord, forgive me when I let other things distract me. You are first in my life!

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Agreement, Anger, Arguing, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

ARGUING WITH GOD

JONAH 4:9

“But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to the point of death!’”

I have met people who just like to argue. It does not matter what it is about. They just like to argue – the weather, politics, religion, the taste of sweet tea (lol). Some things are worth arguing about. Maybe I should change “argue” to “discuss” here. Either way, some things merit a conversation, but one thing is for sure – you cannot out argue God.

Look at today’s verse again. Jonah is actually arguing with God about his right to be angry. We discussed anger earlier, but here Jonah is once again stating his right to God to be angry about what He has done. Let me ask you a question. Do you think Jonah is going to win this argument? Of course, not. But he has every right to speak up. God is big enough to handle it.

APPLICATION

I agree that we need to learn to submit our wills to His will. There really is not another way to live the Christian life successfully. However, God knows us better than we do. He knows when we question His will what our motive(s) is(are). So, it is okay to “argue” with God, as long as you do not think you are going to win.

We have to keep in mind that His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees our life, past, present and future. He could tell us what is coming if He chose to do so. Most of the time, He does not. That means we have to trust Him, even if we disagree with Him. God’s feelings are not hurt by our questions. He is big enough to handle anything we throw at Him.

I am sure you can think of something right now that you would have chosen to handle a different way. I would have chosen to learn about the eternal things of God without going through my last stem cell transplant. But God chose that to teach me. Did I like it? Did I argue a little with God? Yep, sure did. In the end, I submitted to His will. How about you?

Lord, I do not always agree with You, but I know You are right. Help me trust You from the beginning.

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Accountability, Accused, Anger, Belief, Bible, Choices, Encouragement, God's Will, Scripture

MY RIGHTS

JONAH 4:4

“But the LORD said, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry?’”

We are all quick to assert our rights nowadays. We think just because we breathe, we have the right to demand our rights. “We have the right to choose.” “We have the right to protest!” We have the right to…fill in the blank. We can all find our own platforms to march on, can’t we?

Jonah thought he had the right to be angry, but God called him on it. The New Living Translation translates “Do you have a good reason” as “Is it right for you.” I actually like that better. God tells him that he has no right to be angry about this (we’ll see that a little later). God is the only one who really has a right.

APPLICATION

Proverbs 18:1 says, “He who separates himself seeks his own desire. He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” Doesn’t that sound just like Jonah? He thinks he is right. He thinks he has the right to be angry. How dare God save the Ninevites. How dare God do something other than what I think is right.

Our right is not necessarily God’s right. We, therefore, have no right to demand our rights. My brother-in-law used to say all our rights were nailed to the cross. We only have the right to die to ourselves. Then we are made right through His righteousness. We still cannot demand our rights because now all our rights belong to Him.

Confused? Don’t be. Just go to Jesus and confess your sins. Let Him show you what is right and what is not right. Let your rights rest in Jesus. He will look over your and protect you. When you make your rights line up with His righteousness, all the petty stuff falls away. Then you can walk in His righteousness and allow Him to make you right.

All my rights are on the cross with Your Son, Father. I bow before You now and ask You to make me right.

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Affliction, Belief, Bible, Choices, Comfort, Death, Deception, God's Will, Grace, Healing, Hope, Scripture

JUST LET ME DIE

JONAH 4:3

“‘So now, LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.’”

Unfortunately, I have heard those words from too many people. I remember a young lady that was on my caseload at a children’s home who tried to kill herself. I was called to the cottage to find that she had cut her wrists. We quickly bandage them, applied pressure and took off for the hospital. She kept saying all the way there that she just wanted to die. “Just let me die.” Fortunately, she did not and worked out the issues that led her to this decision.

Jonah wanted to die for two reasons. The first was because he just could not stand the idea that Nineveh was saved. He wanted them dead. He had rather die than see that. Secondly, Jonah did not want to see his own country suffer under the hands of these Assyrians. He had just as soon die than see that. Life simply was not worth living, or so it seemed.

APPLICATION

I pray you never feel this way. I pray you never feel so hopeless that taking your life seems the only option. God has so much for you. I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” That is still true today.

When all seems lost, turn to Jesus. When troubles and trials flood your days, turn to Jesus. He can soothe any wound. He can heal any broken heart. But you have to ask Him. He will not intervene where He is not wanted. But the very second you make that first step towards Him, He is there with a warm and kind embrace.

Trusting Jesus with your life is more than just an eternal decision. It is a daily decision. He longs to guide and direct us. He does not want to see us stray off the narrow road. But He will let us. We are not tied to Him and drug along. Run up beside Him today and grab His hand. He will gladly hold yours.

Oh Father, for the thousands of souls out there today who have no hope, will You send someone in their lives today to share Jesus?

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Destruction, Eternity, Evangelism, Faith, God's Will, Gospel, Judgment, Promises, Salvation, Scripture

COUNTDOWN

JONAH 3:4

“Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.’”

No child likes to hear these words from their mother. “Just wait until your Father gets home.” The countdown begins. Knowing what time dad normally arrives home, the child begins to count the hours or minutes until they hear his car or truck pull into the driveway or garage. I don’t necessarily like this approach to child-rearing, but many parents use it.

Jonah was basically telling the Ninevites, “Dad’s coming, and He’s not happy.” Nineveh wasn’t just going to receive a spanking, though. They were going to be overthrown. The Hebrew word here means to overturn or turn over. In other words, life as they knew it was about to change. This is a dire warning. What would they do?

APPLICATION

God still gives us warnings. He may send it through a preacher (like Jonah, minus the fish smell, lol). He may reveal Himself to you in a passage of Scripture. He may speak through a dream. That still happens in many parts of the world where the Gospel has not been shared. I have heard numerous stories of a “man in white” appearing in a dream, giving a message to turn to Jesus.

Whether you heed the warning or not is your decision. Of course, the greatest message we have concerning our eternal doom is revealed in the Bible. That sounds bad. It’s not meant to. But the Word of God points us to a place of repentance and deliverance. And then we receive all the promises of God. He gives us fair warning. It’s spelled out clearly. We just have to believe.

In tomorrow’s blog we will see what the Ninevites do with Jonah’s warning. But I am more concerned with what you will do with it. Have you given your life to Christ? Have you turned over everything to Him? He desires to make you His own. If you have done that, praise the Lord. Now give someone else the warning. Don’t let them perish without a Savior.

God, my Father, You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.

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Belief, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Fear, Power, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

NOW I BELIEVE

JONAH 1:16

“Then the men became extremely afraid of the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Sometimes seeing is believing. For instance, try to explain to someone who has never seen the ocean what it is. It’s more than a large body of water. It has its own ecosystem with fish and clams and shrimp. It has waves (they may ask what a wave is) that break on the shore. Explain that, lol.

These sailors were now seeing the power of God in the stillness of the sea. They saw His power in the storm, but this stillness was supernatural. The storm stopped when they threw Jonah overboard. His words had come true. They worshipped Jehovah God right there on the deck of the ship and probably offered a sacrifice as they made those vows. They now belonged to Him.

APPLICATION

Many times, we never see the result of our witness. We plant seeds and leave, only to have someone else come along and water and perhaps reap the harvest. Jonah never saw the change in the sailors’ lives. He was swimming for his life. Hmmm, that applies to us today.

In the midst of our trials, we are so often so busy trying to survive that we forget others are watching us. They are observing how we handle this trial. Does our speech match our deeds? Is our walk matching our talk?

Don’t forget that. People are watching to see if your words become true. I am not saying you are a prophet, lol. I am saying that you need to speak truth at all times. Then you are to make sure you are walking in that truth. The people who are watching you are looking for glimpses of Jesus, whom you proclaim. Can they see Him?

O God, my Savior, You may throw me in a raging sea only for the benefit of someone else so they can see Your power. Use me Lord.

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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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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

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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Abuse, Anger, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Courage, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

RETRIBUTION

OBADIAH 18

“‘Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,’ for the LORD has spoken.”

When you’ve been wronged, it is only natural to want to get “payback.” Our flesh demands it. We can’t wait to see those who have hurt us hurt themselves. I didn’t say that was right, only that our flesh leans that way. God calls us to a higher standard, a different response.

Esau has finally and completely been dealt with by God. He has made Jacob “a fire” and Joseph “a flame.” They will be rekindled, and life will emerge from death. Esau, on the other hand, will have “no survivor.” And those final words of today’s verse, “for the LORD has spoken,” says it all. Finality! Completion.

APPLICATION

Wait on the Lord and see the splendor of His handiwork. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. But it’s so hard to wait when you are the one suffering. I understand that. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. I read stories of child abuse that angered me. I wanted those people punished for what they had done to an innocent child.

I quickly learned that I could not shoulder that burden. I was in no position to punish them. But I could extend the hand of Jesus to them. That was hard at first. I remember telling my staff that and encouraging them to do the same. It was amazing how much better the children responded to us when they saw us loving their parents.

I don’t which side of the fence you are on today – Jacob or Esau. It really doesn’t matter. Both sides need Jesus. Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him? Do that today. Lay down all your intentions on getting even. It’s not worth it and doesn’t satisfy. Only Jesus does.

I love You, Lord, and I lift You up. I praise You for all You have done and continue to do in my life.

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