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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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.

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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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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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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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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Justice, Scripture

CLEAR COMMANDS

AMOS 5:15

“Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of armies will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

One of the things that drove me crazy working with staff in children’s homes is when they would not make their expectations clear to the children. The children would get in trouble for doing something that they had no idea they were expected to do. Clear, concise rules make things so much easier.

Here in today’s verse, we have three very clear and concise commands. Hate evil, love good and establish justice. I didn’t say these were easy, but they are clear. Obviously, the nation of Israel had not been doing that very well. Amos points out if they did, perhaps God would show grace to them.

APPLICATION

These three commands apply to us today. The first two are simple – hate evil and love good. I think we can all agree on those. Those two are common sense (at least to most people). But how about that third one – establish justice in the gate? What did that mean then and how does it apply to us know?

We must deal with sin. For too long the Israelites had overlooked and shrugged off sin. We do the same. Our society is so tolerant today that nothing is considered sin. But we must establish justice. We must call sin sin. Not in a judgmental manner, but only to point out the error of the world.

I am only made aware of sin as it is revealed to me through God’s truth. His truth is always true. His truth is always right. Anything that goes against it is sin – period. That is what keeps me straight. I want to hate evil, love good and establish justice in the gate. How about you?

Lord, keep me focused on what You say is true and right. I want to walk in Your truth.

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SEPARATED

AMOS 2:11

“‘Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets, and some of your young men to be Nazirites. Is this not so, you sons of Israel?’ declares the LORD.”

It seems lately I have been bringing up a lot of my childhood memories in my daily blogs. I am thankful for those memories. Today, I am remembering my daddy’s shop in our backyard. My dad had a great shop with just about every tool needed for any job. It was a collection of tools over decades. But one thing I remember about his tools was he had certain tools for certain jobs. I can still remember picking up some tools in his shop and wondering what in the world it was for. Then he would explain the purpose, maybe only one purpose, and I would understand.

God set apart the Nazirites for a purpose. They were the ones called to live holy, unstained lives in the midst of perversion and disobedience. We can think of the stories in the Old Testament that talked about them. One in particular stands out – Samson – who was not true to his calling. He disobeyed the Nazirite vows in so many ways. God still used him, but I wonder if he had been more faithful, what else could he have done for the Lord.

APPLICATION

We are called to be separated from the world also. As believers in Jesus, we are to be different, peculiar, aliens in this land. Sure, we have to live here and interact with others. But our mode of living needs to look different from the world. We need to raise eyebrows. Especially now in our culture, we need to show that it is possible to life “separated.”

How do you do that? Psalm 119:9 tells us. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word.” There is no other way. Only the Word will keep you separated. It teaches us how to walk with Christ daily, still interacting with the world around us like He did, and yet not get stained by the influence of evil.

I am thankful I can walk separate. I am thankful I can live holy. I am thankful for the Word of God that shows me what to do every day. During this week of Thanksgiving, give thanks with a grateful heart for being separated by Christ.

Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Calling, Courage, Direction, Encouragement

MY END

AMOS 2:2

“‘So I will send fire upon Moab and it will consume the citadels of Kerioth; and Moab will die amid the panic of battle, amid war cries and the sound of a trumpet.’”

We are reminded of the prophecy of Balaam in today’s verse. Remember Balaam? He was the prophet with the talking donkey He said, regarding Moab, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.” (Numbers 24:17)

The Lord is saying through Amos that the nation of Moab would be destroyed through battle. There would be no peaceful demise. It would be violent. This would reflect what they had done to Israel. Violence invites violence. The Lord was not about to forget their atrocities.

APPLICATION

Our decisions have consequences. When we live as if we are free from the consequences of our actions, we are inviting a harsh end. We may see others living lives devoid of God and think we can get away with it also. But we don’t know the mind of God. We don’t know when He will rain down judgment. It may not happen in this lifetime.

Let me urge you to live each day as if it is your last. How do you want to face the Lord of the universe? Do you want to face Him in a fearful state or one of joy? I recently read an article that listed a couple of dozen last words of atheists. None of them were pleasant. In fact, several of them had words that expressed feelings of torment. They didn’t face God well.

As for me, I can’t wait to see my Lord. Have I done everything perfect down here? No, but it is not about what I have done. It’s all about what He has done in and though me. I am confident in my homegoing because I know His Son, Jesus. Do you? I pray you do or that you will come to know Him today.

I praise You, O Lord, because I know where I am going when I leave this world. Thank You for that assurance.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Courage, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Grace, Protection

THE TRAP IS SET

JOEL 3:11

Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down, LORD, Your warriors.

Do you remember hiding from your friends outside when you were growing up, only to spring out of your hiding place and scaring them? I sure do. We would play in the woods around my house and in the bushes in the yard. I have even been known to make sounds to draw them in. Boy, I loved scaring them. I know, it sounds mean. But it was all in fun.

Not so much in today’s verse. Joel is calling in all the enemies of Judah. He wanted them to come close. And when they were all there, surrounding Judah, he calls on God to send down His warriors to destroy them. Essentially the net was cast, and they were all caught. Only then did they realize they were in trouble.

APPLICATION

Have you ever felt like the net was cast on you? The devil will lure you in with the temptations of the world. He will tempt you to come closer and closer until…snap! Then you are caught in a snare of sin. You feel there is no escape. You feel helpless.

Stop that! When you sense the devil is drawing you away from the safety of Jesus, stop. Retreat back to where you know you have protection. Put your armor on. Submit to God and then you can tell the devil to flee. He can’t lure you in because you belong to someone mightier and stronger.

I am so glad I belong to my Master. There are no nets strong enough to capture me. I am a warrior of the King. Satan has no power over me. Amen? You have the same power. You just have to walk in it. You’ve heard it said that we walk from victory, not to victory. We are already victorious. Hallelujah!

Thank You, Lord, for protecting me. You draw my enemies in to destroy them.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Listening, Modeling, Protection, Scripture

THE SOUNDS OF JUDGMENT

JOEL 2:5

“With a noise as of chariots they leap about on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people drawn up for battle.”

Every seventeen years Cicadas make their descent on Tennessee. This year was one of those years. What is a Cicada? It’s an insect that looks like a huge, superfly. The biggest thing about Cicadas is the noise they make. Their mating call can reach 95 decibels. Compare that to an overhead plane that is around 80 decibels. When these Cicadas hatch in the thousands, you can imagine the noise. It can be quiet deafening.

So, I can imagine the noise of the swarms of locusts described here in Joel 2:5. Their noise must have been something for the people of Judah. The approaching swarms could be heard from as far away as six miles. That had to be quite scary for the little ones. An unseen noise that got louder and louder must have been terrifying.

APPLICATION

What noises scare you? Are you one of those who hears every little sound at night and jumps up to check all the doors and windows? My wife is a light sleeper. She hears every little sound. Me – I can sleep through a hurricane, lol. Things that go bump in the night do keep a lot of people awake. Some people are just restless. Others are just plain scared.

Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Do you believe that? Then rest in Him. He guards your soul. He is your great protector. Don’t let the noises of this world scare you.

I know I can rest in Him. I do need to be mindful to lock my windows and doors, but I can trust Jesus to protect me. When I lay down at night, I can truly say that I trust Him to keep me and my wife safe. That’s why I can rest so well. He is in charge. He never sleeps. He is watching over my well-being twenty-four seven. What a relief!

Thank You, Lord, for watching over me. Your watchful eyes are moving to and fro thoughout the whole world.

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