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

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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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, 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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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fear, Idols, Judgment, Scripture

TREMBLING

OBADIAH 9

“Then your warriors will be filled with terror, Teman, so that everyone will be eliminated from the mountain of Esau by murder.”

When I hear the word “trembling,” I can’t help but think about my little 4 year old daughter singing “Were You There.” She had a little lisp on her “r’s”, so tremble sounded more like twemble. But it was so cute hearing her sing this song. You could almost hear her tremble.

The mighty warriors of Edom were trembling in terror. Everyone was going to be eliminated, according to God. There was nothing they could do to stop it. They were in trouble, and everyone knew it. Tremble, tremble, tremble!

APPLICATION

Do you tremble at the thought of facing the Lord? I hope you don’t. There’s no need to do that, if you know Him as Lord and Savior. He is not a scary God. He loves you and wants to bless you. But you have to be willing to live for Him, which means getting rid of all the stuff that you put in His place.

Carl, I don’t have anything above God. Are you sure about that? We can so easily move God down a shelf or two when we get busy with other stuff. Nothing can come before Him – Nothing! Not even for a minute. He must remain first in your life.

I have learned that through the school of hard knocks. Have you been there? I think I got my doctorate there. I think I am finally at a place where I am more aware of where I place the Lord. He is first in my life. My wife knows that. My boss knows that. I want everyone to know that. Can you say the same?

O Lord, I do not want to tremble in Your presence. I want to walk confidently and boldly into Your arms.

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Accountability, Angels, Battles, Bible, Deceit, Destruction, Eternity, Following, Idols, Judgment

BLOWS FROM ABOVE

AMOS 9:1

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said, ‘Strike the pillar capitals so that the thresholds will shake and break them on the heads of them all! Then I will put to death the rest of them with the sword; they will not have a fugitive who will flee, nor a survivor who will escape.’”

Anyone knows when you are engaging your enemy you always want the high ground. That gives you a better view of the enemy’s moves and you can better defend yourself. Also, when you strike, you strike from above. Being above your target can give you an edge in the fight.

God is standing in Amos’ vision and tells His Angel of the Lord to strike the place of worship that Jeroboam had built. Strike it from above. Crush it and anyone who is there worshipping. God was done with this façade of worship. He wanted it done away with.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want to feel God’s blows from above, do you? Well, if you are in Christ, you have nothing to fear. That’s not how God treats His children. He may discipline you, but it will always be in love and to draw you to Him.

But for those who are not in Christ, they have no idea what is coming. They will be judged one day, and they will feel those blows from God. He will crush them and send them to their eternal punishment.

There is a person on television right now who claims to be an atheist. He has done a commercial to talk about his atheist group. Just because he doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t make God not exist. But he closes his commercial by stating that he is okay with burning in hell. He has no idea. We should all pray that all these who claim such nonsense will come to their senses and realize there is a God who loves them so much.

God, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your blows from above. I am safe in the arms of Jesus.

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Abiding, Battles, Blessing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, God's Will, Goodness, Harvest

FRUIT BASKET

AMOS 8:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit.”

I love most fruit. I especially fresh fruit. I have been blessed to be in Uganda during pineapple season. Wow! If you’ve never eaten fresh pineapple, you have missed out. It is so sweet and juicy. Man, I want some now.

So, why did the Lord use this image to give a message to Amos. Albert Barnes says, “The sight gave an idea of completeness.” The end of the harvest had arrived. A sense of finality. That’s what Amos is implying here to Israel. They had come to their end.

APPLICATION

We will all come to our final day at some point. Only God knows when that will be. We must do all we can to prepare for that day. That preparation has to begin with our spiritual being. It belongs to God, so He draws us towards Himself. That wooing is intentional, but we have to choose to respond.

Have you done that? Don’t be like that basket of summer fruit that has reached its expiration date. All that can be done then is to throw it out. We are meant for so much more. Will you yield yourself to Jesus and allow Him to use you while you are here on this earth?

I don’t want to “spoil.” I want to be used in God’s eternal plan. There are times when I don’t do that well and other times when I do it extremely well. It all depends on my current walk with Him. That’s why it is so important to stay close to the Master. Will you do that today? Allow Him to use you.

God, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve anything You give me, but I am so thankful.

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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Confession, Destruction, Foundation, God's Will, Judgment

DEMO TIME

AMOS 7:8

“And the LORD said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel. I will not spare them any longer.’”

When a wall is found to be out of plumb, there is only one thing to do if you can’t get it into plumb. You have to tear it down. Sometimes you can pull it back into plumb. That will take some pulleys or belts. You won’t be able to pull it back and set it straight by yourself. You may have to resign yourself that you have to tear it down and start over.

God is telling Amos in today’s verse that Israel is so out of plumb that He is going to have to tear them down in order to build them back up. It won’t be pleasant. There would be pain involved. People may question it. But God knows it has to be done.

APPLICATION

How far out of plumb are you? If God held a plumb line up against you, what would He find? That’s why it is so important to come to Him daily (for me, minute by minute) and confess our sins. By doing that, we are essentially “replumbing” our spiritual lives. We need that constant rebuild.

But when we have gone too far, God has to resort to a more severe method. He may just have to tear you down to build you up. None of us want that, do we? We want it to be a pleasant experience.

I only want to be plumb. I want to meet God’s standards for my building, not the world’s. I could be collapsing, and the world would say I am fine. Wow! Don’t trust the world’s architects and contractors. Trust the One who knows how to use the plumb line.

Thank You, Lord, for holding Your plumb line against me. Reshape me in Your image.

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Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Foundation, God's Will, Judgment

PLUMB LINE

AMOS 7:7

“So He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.”

My dad was a great carpenter. I have mentioned that before. He had the ability to build just about anything. He was meticulous. He never hurried a project. When building a wall, he made sure the walls were plumb. He used a level most of the time, but he had a plumb line that he occasionally used, just to make sure.

The Lord used a plumb line in this vision He showed Amos. You see, God is a perfectionist. He will only allow to stand what is perfect and whole. Israel had gotten out of plumb. They were leaning the wrong direction. The Lord knew He had to tear them down in order to build them back straight.

APPLICATION

He will do the same to us. If we claim to represent Him, He demands that we stay in plumb. We can’t lean crooked. When we do, we put the whole structure in danger. If we lean too far or too long the rest of the building can collapse. We are part of a larger structure than just ourselves.

People are watching us. They see how we live our lives. If we lean out of plumb, we endanger them. We could cause them to reject the teachings of Christ because of the way we live. Our leanings could crush them.

O beloved, we are called to be God’s workmanship. 1 Corinthians 3:10 says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, but someone else is building on it. Each one should be careful how he builds.” There you are. We have to be careful. Use the plumb line. Make sure your walls are stable.

Lord, help me to build straight and true. Let whatever I build be built on You.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Cleansing, Destruction, Eternity, Fire, Judgment

A CONSUMING FIRE

AMOS 7:4

“So the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, the Lord GOD was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farmland.”

I have mentioned I grew up in a rural community. That meant I was surrounded by farmland. Every once in a while, a farmer would burn off his field. It was a controlled burn, but it still was hot and moved fast. I have watched farmers do this and have even helped on occasion. The fire destroyed everything in its path.

Fire is a symbol of God’s judgment. Amos had just stilled God’s hand in verse 3 (God relented). But here, we see God once again sending forth His judgment on the land. And just like that fire that farmer set, His fire will destroy whatever is in its path. His judgment is sure.

APPLICATION

Don’t think for a second that you can escape the fires of God’s judgment. He won’t excuse us. We have been warned. Many live their lives with no fear of eternity. Just because they don’t believe doesn’t make it untrue. God is real! His Word is true! God will have the last word.

And when God’s judgment comes, it will be too late to say, “Hold on God. I was going to get around to accepting Your Son.” Nope, that won’t work. If you are a believer, praise Him for your salvation. If you haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus, do it today.

I do not fear God’s judgment because I know I am secure. I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and am headed to heaven. But there are many I know that aren’t secure. They haven’t made that decision. Others I know aren’t walking with the Lord. They are living to please the flesh and not the Spirit. Will you join me today in living for His Son? Will you trust Him to secure your eternity?

O God, my Savior, I praise You for the security I have in You. I pray others will come and experience the freedom they can have in You.

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I’VE HAD ENOUGH

AMOS 7:2

“And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, ‘Lord GOD, please pardon! How can Jacob stand? For he is small.’”

My father accepted Christ at age 80. It was after a stay in the hospital with heart failure. You have to understand that my dad was someone who could fix anything. He had always been able to do that. Now, here he was, laying in bed unable to “fix it.” It was then that he told the Lord that he had enough. He finally gave up and surrendered.

Even Amos was begging God to stop the judgment against Israel. He was fearful of their utter destruction. God will do whatever necessary to draw us to Himself. He will allow things in our lives that will push us to the point of repentance. Amos was witnessing such an event. God wasn’t done with Israel yet, but the people had to realize their need for a Savior.

APPLICATION

We are the same. I came to Christ after a period of rebellion and wrong living. I was playing the part of a Christian but had never really surrendered. It took God doing an incredible work in my life to draw me to Him.

God loves us so much. He is just waiting for us to say, “I surrender, Lord.” Then, instantly, He is there to welcome us into His loving embrace. We are ushered into His kingdom. We are a child of the King from that moment forward. But we have to surrender. Have you?

Oh, I pray you have surrendered your will for His. It is so much better. Life has purpose in His will. You will still face difficult times, but they are so much sweeter with Him. Yes, I said sweeter. Knowing that He allows us to go through these trials to make us more like Him is somewhat comforting. Had I rather not have trial? You had better believe it. But I trust Him. Do you?

Father God, You are the only one to whom I will surrender. I trust You through every storm.

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