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

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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Accountability, Anger, Belief, Bible, Confession, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fellowship, Godliness, Salvation, Scripture

ANGER

JONAH 3:9

“‘Who knows, God may turn and relent, and turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.’”

I am not an angry man. I seldom get angry. It is my prayer that my anger is only shown in situations where the innocent are treated unfairly. Abortion angers me. Innocent lives are snuffed out, and that breaks my heart. But this blog is not about abortion. It is about anger.

The king of Nineveh recognized God’s burning anger against his kingdom because of their evil ways. He knew God would judge them for this unless they confessed that and turned to Him. Look what he says. He said, “Who knows, God may turn and relent…that we will not perish.” He was asking the Lord to forgive them. By his and his people’s actions, they showed their repentance.

APPLICATION

God is not angry at you. Let me get that straight. He is saddened by your sin. Before you come to Christ, the penalty for your sins is eternal damnation. The good news, though, is that Christ died for those sins. God’s anger has been quenched through the blood of His own Son. Now, He just wants you to trust Him and trust His Word.

It is much like we parents feel when our children disobey us. We did not hate our children because of this. It saddens our hearts when they disobey. We want them to obey us because they love us. We want them to obey us because they want to please us. That’s our heavenly Father. He loves seeing His children do His will.

I am so thankful that the anger of God isn’t an issue for me. I know my sins have been paid for through the blood of the Lamb. His wrath has been abated. I am free to live for Him and through Him. It is my goal each day to live in such a way to honor Him in all I do. I pray that is your goal as well. Ephesians 4:26-27 is a great passage on anger. It reads, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil a foothold.” Live by that.

I will not be angry today, Lord. I will trust You to help me control my anger.

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Abiding, Bible, Distress, Encouragement, Fasting, Humility, Sacrifice, Scripture, Thirsting

NOT A DROP

JONAH 3:7

“And he issued a proclamation, and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: No person, animal, herd, or flock is to taste anything. They are not to eat, or drink water.’”

Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean, really thirsty. Your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. You can hardly swallow. Your mouth feels like it is full of sawdust. I have only been that thirsty a couple of times. When we had football camp in Moultrie, GA in August, oh my. The heat and dryness would dehydrate you in minutes, it seemed. Gatorade never tasted so good.

The king of Nineveh called on everyone to refrain from anything to drink. This proclamation even extended to the animals. Can you imagine trying to keep your herds from drinking? And when the king gave an edict, it was followed. No one was allowed anything. His purpose in this will be revealed in the coming verses.

APPLICATION

When I think of being thirsty today, I think about thirsting after the Word of God. God, unlike the king of Nineveh, does not withhold the water of the Word. He freely gives it. Like an artesian well, it flows and flows and flows. It gives refreshment to the driest soul. He restores the vigor of each person who indulges.

Psalm 42:1-2a says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;” Are you thirsty for Jesus? Does your soul thirst for God? We should have an unquenchable thirst for the things of the Lord. We should have a thirst that is not satisfied by anything of this world. Nothing else can meet that need in our life.

I am convinced that the more I drink the Word of God, the more God gives me the thirst for more. I read and study only to read and study more. It is a deep pool of water that never runs dry. I can literally dive deep into it and never come up for air. It envelopes me. I pray you can find that in God’s Word today.

I am so thankful for Your Word, O God. I truly pant after it just as the deer pants for the water.

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Abuse, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Encouragement, Scripture

VOMIT

JONAH 2:10

“Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”

I don’t like to vomit. Excuse me for using a biblical word (lol). The disease I have has attacked my stomach and digestive system. Every two to three weeks, I have a bout of vomiting and upset stomach. My doctor says my gut just shuts down and has to “rest” to keep going. I hate it, but that’s my life.

Jonah, on the other hand, wasn’t vomiting. He WAS the vomit. That big ole fish just upchucked him onto dry land. Wow! I bet that changed some beach lovers’ lives. What would you have done if you had seen that? So, here is Jonah, lying in a puddle of fish vomit. Now what?

APPLICATION

Have you ever been puked on? Once, when our family was at a theme park, I got sick on a simulation ride. I puked everywhere. My kids were so embarrassed. But I didn’t do it on anybody. Luckily, I was sitting on the end of the row up front. But people do get vomited on, and I don’t mean physically.

Being mistreated and devalued is like being vomited on. The feeling of being treated unfairly or abusively are hard to shake. You feel like getting a shower to wash off the disgust. But this stuff doesn’t wash off easy. I have the secret ingredient. It is Jesus.

Before Christ we all feel “less than.” We believe we do not really matter. Our lives are not important. But when we come to Christ, He gives us our value. He tells us we matter. He sees us differently – glorified. There is no vomit here. Only love and mercy. Is that something you want? You can have it in Him.I

give You all the praise, Jesus, because You picked me up in my slimy mess, cleaned me off and called me Your child.

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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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Advice, Advocate, Asking, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Scripture, Wisdom

GOD, YOU’RE RIGHT

JONAH 1:14

“Then they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life, and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, LORD, have done as You pleased.’”

Many times in our lives we wrestle with a decision, so we cry out to God. Psalm 118:5 comes to mind. “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” This Psalmist understood where to go. We should learn a lesson from this. Cry out to Him.

The sailors had tried everything to not do what Jonah told them to do to him (throw him into the sea). Now, they have been driven to Jehovah God to beg forgiveness for the action that was about to take place. God used a raging sea to draw these men to Him. These pagan sailors were about to see God in action.

APPLICATION

Don’t wait until you are knee deep in life’s cesspool before you cry out to God. He sent His Son Jesus to rescue you from all that. We must have the wisdom to pursue our God in all circumstances. That wisdom only comes through the reading and studying of God’s Word.

That Word must transform your mind so the first thing you think about when you are going through that hard time is the Word. What would the Word say do? What verse comes to mind? A friend of mine says, “Scripture memory gives the Holy Spirit a vocabulary to speak to us personally at any time or place. Since the Lord can use scripture we have put to memory, we can trust His communication with us.”

I am thankful for the scriptures I have memorized. They serve me well when I am in distress, or I encounter someone else in distress. That happened yesterday and I was able to share God’s Word with them without even opening a Bible. I had it stored in my heart and mind. Will you spend some time today memorizing a passage?

Thank You, Lord, for the Word. Thank You for using all those authors over all those years to tell Your story.

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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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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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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Love, Scripture

LOVE YOUR BROTHER

OBADIAH 10

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be eliminated forever.”

I just finished a weekend with about 170 men at a conference in the hills of Tennessee. It was awesome. The one thing that was apparent was the love the guys had for each other. That love crossed cultural and racial lines. Looking around the room while these men worshipped together has to look a lot like heaven.

Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had warred against his brother. God was not pleased with that. He had not shown love to him. Quite the contrary. When they battled, they were brutal. Their aggression toward their blood relatives was horrendous. God expects us to love our brothers.

APPLICATION

What does it mean to love your brother? It means accepting their faults and not judging them for everything. It means coming alongside them when they are down. It means coming to the rescue. It means bearing their burdens.

Who is your brother? God’s Word tells us. We have a family that is eternal. All those who are of the household of God, no matter where they live, are our brothers (and sisters). We don’t have the right to pick and choose whom we love in God’s family. We love them all.

Is there someone in the family that you need to show love to today? Give them a call. Send them a text. Let them know they are loved. I try to text at least one person a day and let them know they are loved. Try that for a week and see how you feel. You will be amazed.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Help me to love all Your children as You do.

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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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