Advocate, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Mercy, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

FOLLOW THROUGH

JONAH 3:10

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.

Follow through is a term used in a lot of sports. In golf, it is important to follow through on your swing. That means to not stop halfway through it. In basketball, follow through is applied to your shot of the basketball. Let your arms and hands follow through. And in baseball, follow through is important as a pitcher to get the full action or speed of the ball. Follow through is important.

The people of Nineveh followed through on their acts of humility and repentance. They came to Jehovah God asking for forgiveness, and He granted it. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way…” Their follow through of what they said they would do caused the God of the universe to relent “of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them.” They moved the heart of God.

APPLICATION

Did you know our actions today move God’s heart? When He sees us reaching out to help someone less fortunate, it blesses Him. When He watches us serve our fellow believers in church, He is well pleased. When we give to support a missionary who is serving in some foreign country, God takes that gift and blesses that person.

We don’t do these things to get God to love us, though. That’s not what this is about. God loves us – period. We do all these things because we love Him. We obey the One we love. We want to please Him. We want to see our heavenly Father smile (I’m sure He does). Do all these things just because of all He has done for you.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outdo or outgive God. I do and I give because I want to express my love for Him. His Son was sent to die on that cross to secure my salvation. God wanted me with Him in heaven. Isn’t that awesome? He wants you there also. If you have never asked Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, do that today. Let the journey begin.

Father God, I love You. That’s why I obey You. That’s why I do all that I do in Your name.

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Confession, Discipline, Distress, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAYERS HEARD

JONAH 2:7

“‘While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.’”

I have heard of some incredible answers to prayer. I am sure you have also. Some of those answered prayers are just about too good to believe. If I had not known the person and situation personally, I would have never believed it. But God has a way of making believers out of unbelievers, doesn’t He?

Don’t forget our scene – Jonah is still in the belly of that fish. He’s been praying to God for the several verses. In the written book we have what may seem to be a short prayer. This prayer may have been given over that three-day period. Here in today’s verse, he is fainting away. I am assuming he must be towards the end of those three days. No water, no food, no light! He is week and feeble, yet he prays, “and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.” Wow!

APPLICATION

Even in your lowest hour, when you are at your weakest. None of us have been where Jonah was. So, we can surely pray to the Lord. We don’t have seaweed and stuff floating around us. But we may have other things trying to drown out our access to our holy God. We can’t let anything distract us from praying.

God is always listening, no matter where we are. We must not forget that God placed Jonah in the belly of that fish for a reason. He places us in our “fish’s belly” for a reason also. He wants to draw all our attention to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to not learn my lessons in a fish’s belly. I want to walk in obedience and do what the Lord asks me to begin with. I have still got a lot to learn about obedience, but I am trying. I am listening. Are you? Or are you content to wallow around in your “fish’s belly”?

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me obedience. I want to learn quickly and do exactly what You tell me.

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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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Abiding, Advocate, Agreement, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Covenant, Discipline, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Goodness, Home, Reward

NO MORE

AMOS 9:15

“‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.

I worked over 30 years with children in the foster care system. Most of these children were removed from their homes due to their parents, not due to anything they had done. Some of the children, however, were placed with us because of their behavior. I had the joy on several occasions to see these families restored. Seeing these children go home made our hard work with them so worth it. Our prayer was always that they would remain with their parents.

God removed Israel from the Promised Land for repeated unrepentance and rebellion. He had to discipline His children. But now He is telling them He would bring them back home to never leave again. That land was theirs. He had promised it and meant for them to keep it. What great news! What a great way to end this book.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Have you wandered from home? Are you far away from the Master? Maybe you are like that prodigal son who found himself in a pig pen instead of at home with his father. Wherever you are today, stop and take notice. Ask yourself if you are residing with Jesus.

Your physical location is of less importance than your spiritual location. What do I mean by that? You can be in the pit but free in Him. You could be going through the valley of the shadow of death but walking unafraid because of your reliance on the King. The Lord wants us to feel safe. He wants us home.

I can only speak for myself, but I find myself sometimes feeling like I’ve moved to a foreign country spiritually. I go through dry spells and struggle to pray. But when I persevere and stay in the Word, God brings me home. I had always been secure. I just needed reminding whose I am. How about you?

Lord of my life, lead me home. I want to dwell with You in Your Promised Land.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Apologies, Bible, Consequences, Devout, Discipline, Examples, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Promises, Testimony

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

AMOS 9:8

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will eliminate it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally eliminate the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Are you a good promise keeper? We have all broken promises at some point in our lives. It may have been a small, minor promise, but it was still a promise. I try not to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

Failure was and never will be an option for our God. He had made a promise to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He promised him a land, a son and a nation. Now, as the nation of Israel was deserting Him and facing judgment, God reminds them of that promise. Jacob (also known as Israel) would be remembered and not totally destroyed.

APPLICATION

Let me encourage you today to keep your promises. Maybe you only promised your child an ice cream cone. Go get it. Maybe you promised your spouse a weekend away. Go! Maybe your promise is more serious like your wedding vows. Those must be kept.

Whatever promise you made, keep it. A vow made should be a vow kept. After all, as a believer, you are representing your Savior. How you keep promises reflects on Him. I think if we understood that fully, there would be fewer promises broken.

Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? One of my newest, favorite verses is found in Joshua. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” You can take God’s promises to the bank. They are for sure.

Lord God, I am so thankful Your promises are true and faithful. I rest knowing I can count on You.

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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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Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Destruction, Discipline, Failures, Harvest

CROP FAILURE

AMOS 7:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a swarm of locusts when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing.”

I have shared several times about my upbringing in Southwest Georgia. I grew up in a farming community. My uncle and cousins were farmers. So, I can relate to Amos’ descriptions of the crops and mowings. Crops are harvested according to their growth, not man’s schedule.

In verse 1 of chapter 7, we see Amos describing how God was judging Israel through crop failures. After the king’s mowing, which was probably the crop harvest that went to the king for taxes, they were hit with the locusts. This would have been devastating for the farmer. When their harvest is eaten up, they would have nothing to eat themselves or harvest to sell.

APPLICATION

We sometimes feel like our crops have failed. We may not be literally raising crops, but we are working and living in this world. Sometimes all our efforts fall short. It seems nothing we try to do works out. We are stuck and have no idea how to get unstuck.

Praise be to God! He knows exactly what we need to get unstuck. We need to turn to Him. Turn your attention to Jesus and allow Him to show you the way out. Offer to Him all your burdens. He can handle it. So, when your “crops fail,” let Jesus maintain your harvest.

I know I can never produce anything that is worthy of Jesus. Our efforts are rewarded by Him, but we must be willing to offer them as a sacrifice. Now, I don’t mean a literal sacrifice. I mean we have to sacrifice ourselves. That’s what God wants – us. Will you give it to Him today?

Lord, I am thankful for the privilege to give of myself. I want You to have all of me.

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Battles, Bible, Destruction, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Leading, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

ROUGH RIDE

AMOS 6:12

“Do horses run on rocks? Or does one plow them with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,”

I’m a member of a hunting lease here in Tennessee. I love going out there to hunt. One section of the lease, which I love to hunt, has become almost inaccessible due to the condition of the road. This road is full of rocks and ruts. Without a four-wheeler or a four-wheel drive truck, you are out of luck.

Amos uses the imagery of horses running on rocks in verse 12. I’m not a horse expert, but even I know that is destructive and harmful to the horse. It will end with broken legs which could lead to death. Get the picture. The Israelites had turned justice and the fruit of righteousness into something destructive and perhaps deadly.

APPLICATION

What have you turned around? We tend to want to see things our own way. We justify our sins. We make excuses for our behavior. We blame it on genetics today. The perversions of the flesh are explained away. That’s the same as riding horseback on rocks.

Why don’t we all simply go the Word and let it guide us? If we would do that, our life would go so much smoother. I am not saying we wouldn’t face challenges. We would. But we would know how to face them and get through them.

I am thankful the Lord has led me to filter all my decisions through His Word. It has a way of directing me. That filter is never going to lead me in a direction that is harmful to me. It will always point me to Jesus, which is exactly where I want to be. So, stop riding on rocks!

Father, Your road may not be free of obstacles, but I know I can trust You to guide me. I do not fear the journey, as long as I am with You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Following, Holiness, Holy Spirit

WHEN THE FUN STOPS

AMOS 6:7

“Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles, and the revelry of those who lounge around will come to an end.”

I remember as a teenager, before I came to Christ, participating in some pretty, wild parties. Someone would announce at school about a party taking place at this old, abandoned house in the country. Those parties got real crazy. Often, the sheriff’s office would be called by someone. When they arrived, the party was over.

Very similarly, the Israelites’ party was over. Their “revelry” had come to an end. The sheriff had arrived. Jehovah God said this was enough. And unlike me, who was just sent home, the Israelites were led into exile. Their judgment was tough.

APPLICATION

Are your too busy with your “revelry” to bother with being holy? If you are a believer, you are commanded to live like Jesus, to be holy because He is holy. We don’t think that is possible, so we just ignore that command. We live like we want to and expect God to bless it or at least ignore it.

God still demands obedience. He may not lead us into a physical exile to another country by a conquering horde, but He may lead us into a spiritual exile until we come to our senses. Now, don’t mishear me. God is not intent on punishing us just because we disobeyed. He disciplines us to draw us to Himself.

I know if the Holy Spirit didn’t get my attention every day, I would be drawn into the life of revelry. Who doesn’t like a party? Who wouldn’t rather do as they please? But because of my love for my Savior, I follow Him. I don’t do it to escape punishment. I do it simply because I love Him. How about you?

Lord God, You are so patient and kind towards me. Please forgive me when I stray and draw me back.

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Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Idols, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

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