Affliction, Bible, Examples, God's Will, Gospel, Love, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

BIG FISH STORY

JONAH 1:17

“And the LORD designated a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish for three days and three nights.”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to fish. I have learned a little secret about sending selfies with fish I have caught. Shh, do not tell anyone. You must hold the fish closer to the camera. Lol

Now, this was a big fish that God appointed to swallow Jonah. Get the picture! Jonah is thrown into the sea during the storm. He immediately sinks below the surface, as it miraculously calms. And then from the deep, a fish emerges and swallows him whole. Some people do not believe this story. They say it is allegory. I would believe it if it said Jonah swallowed the fish.

APPLICATION

What can we learn from this story? Do not swim with large fish? No! Never leave the ship without a harpoon? No! Don’t you get it? God protected Jonah by having him swallowed by that fish. He preserved him so He could use him later.

Notice the time he was in the fish. Three days and three nights. In fact, Jesus refers to this and applies it to Himself in Matthew 12:39-40. “39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves a sign; and so no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS IN THE STOMACH OF THE SEA MONSTER FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Jonah had to be swallowed by the fish, just as Jesus was swallowed by the grave. Both emerged alive, a miracle. Jonah’s reemergence led to the repentance of Nineveh. Jesus’ resurrection led to the salvation and the promise of eternal life for all mankind. Have you claimed that? It’s yours for the asking.

I love You, Lord, and I thank You for the story of Jonah that reminds me of our Savior’s burial and resurrection.

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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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Advice, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Examples, Forgiveness, God's Will, Holiness, Inspirational, Witnessing

HATED ENEMIES

AMOS 1:13

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of the sons of Ammon, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.’”

My dad lived through World War II. He was too young to fight, having been born in 1929. But everyone of his generation was invested in the war effort. He told us about the rationing of food and other supplies during this time. He was only a young teen, but he remembered it well. He especially remembered the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He didn’t like the Japanese. In fact, you could probably say he hated them.

Ammon was a despised enemy of Israel. So, when Amos turns his prophecies towards them, they were elated. Ammonites were the descendants of Lot’s younger daughter and himself. They were dispossessed by the 2 ½ tribes of Israel (Reuben, Gad and the ½ tribe of Manasseh) generations earlier. These people hated Israel to the point that they vowed genocide. They even killed the unborn babies of their captives. Cruel!

APPLICATION

Back to my dad’s story. He hated the Japanese until… His grandson (my brother’s oldest son) married a young lady who is from Okinawa. At first my dad did not like that. But then they had their first child, my parents’ first great grandchild. He fell in love with that child. And then they had their second child, a little girl, he really fell in love. It’s funny how children can change our hearts.

Is there someone you need to change your heart about? Maybe there’s a work colleague that you don’t like for really no reason. Reach out to them. Find out more about their life. God loves them just as much as He loves you. There may be a neighbor with whom you have battled with about something. Forgive them. Go to them. Make things right for the cause of Christ.

People are hard to live with sometimes. But God has placed us here on this earth to live with people. He expects us to live in such a way to draw others to Him (1 Peter 2:12). Be the shining example for others of Christ. We don’t know what others are going through until we reach out and talk. Be Jesus to someone else today.

I am so thankful that someone reached out to me to share the love of Christ. Help me, Lord, reach out to someone today.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Examples, Following, Hypocrisy, Intimacy, Testimony

ROCK PILES

HOSEA 12:11 

“Is there injustice in Gilead? Certainly, they are worthless. In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls, yes, their altars are like stone heaps beside the furrows of a field.” 

Here where I live in Eastern Tennessee, it is not uncommon to pass a field where years earlier a farmer had cleared that field of rocks so he could cultivate the soil. Some of those rock piles are decades old. Those rocks were in the way of the task and had to be removed. The pile meant nothing, except maybe a source of stone to be used elsewhere on the farm. 

But here in today’s verse we see the stone heaps being used for altars. In a similar way, stones were removed from their fields. But they made them into altars, going directly against the word of God. Their sacrifices on these piles of rock meant nothing. They thought they were being religious, but they were, in fact, being sacrilegious in their actions. 

APPLICATION 

We often do “religious” stuff to make ourselves feel better. How many of us pray out of habit without any true communication with the Lord? People attend church because they are supposed to. They don’t go to worship as much as they go to be seen and check the box for the week. We may feel better by doing those things, but that is not the point. 

What is the point? The point is this – we have to come to God in Spirit and in Truth. We have to come to Him worshipping, not to worship. We pray to hear from Him, not to tell Him things. When our motives change our heart changes. We can experience a true relationship with the Lord. We can stop building rock piles. 

I desire the deeper things of God, don’t you? I want to know Him more each and every day. I want to know Christ so well that when I see Him face to face in glory, it will be just another day. Now, I know that day will be like none other, but you get my point. Make your faith real today. Stop playing religion.  

Father, I want to know You in a way in which I have never known You. Show me Yourself. 

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Deception, Double-minded, Examples, Following, Lies, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

BAD SCALES

HOSEA 12:7

“A merchant, in whose hands are fraudulent balances, loves to exploit.”

I may have mentioned this before in an earlier blog, but it fits perfect with this verse. When I was growing up in South Georgia, I worked at gas station that also sold feed and seed. We had a scale which was used to weigh out loose seed for people who just needed some for a small garden. Well, that scale had to be calibrated to maintain true weights. Our boss insisted on that. He didn’t want to cheat anyone by using a false scale.

Hosea uses that same illustration. He says anyone who uses false scales loves to exploit others. They can’t be trusted. They love taking advantage of others. Of course, God detests that. This verse is in direct contrast to the previous verse which spoke of maintaining mercy and justice. Israel was guilty of using those fraudulent balances.

APPLICATION

Are you a cheater? Do you rob others? What do I mean by that? I am not implying you are some kind of evil person. But we tip the scales in our favor when we can, don’t we? That’s even evident in relationships. Husbands try to get something from their wives by false motives. Wives do the same. Our motives matter. Our heart matters. Unless we are relating with pure motives towards each other, it is all fraudulent.

Aren’t you glad that is not required? When we balance our scales with truth and treat each other as Christ would, no one is cheated. I quote this often concerning my wife. “It is my privilege to show my love for Jesus by caring for my wife, to love her, to show her honor, to try to understand her and to give up my life and rights for her.” When I do that, my scales are balanced.

Jesus is the answer to false scales. Let Him do the measuring. Let Him do the weighing. He will always pour out the exact amount of mercy and grace we need in our lives to show to others. Isn’t that a pretty picture? We simply pour out His grace and mercy.

Oh Father, don’t let me be use false scales to hurt anyone. Help me to be always true.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Examples, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Scripture, Worship

THE LORD’S DAY

HOSEA 9:5

“What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the LORD?”

I had a drug problem as a child. I was drug to church every Sunday, lol. Now, I may have said that in jest, but the truth was every Sunday I was in church. It was just where we were on Sunday mornings. We were in Sunday School at 9:45 and worship at 11:00. It was the expected thing to do, and we did it. Sunday was the Lord’s day.

Sadly, the Israelites had forsaken the Lord’s festivals in exchange for the worship of other gods. They even combined some of the holy festivals with pagan worship. God, through Hosea, was asking them where they are. His chosen people had forsaken Him. They didn’t have time for Him. He was not a priority.

APPLICATION

We are seeing the same thing today. Covid has gotten a lot of people out of church. Many are content to remain at home and channel surf until they find a preacher they like. Others are content to live stream the service into their home. Going to church has become unimportant. Coming together with other believers to worship and praise our King is not a priority.

Church isn’t out of style. I am afraid we have become complacent. We are allowing the world to dictate our behaviors. Now, I am not talking about not attending while the pandemic was rampant. Most of us took precautions during that time. But that time as passed. Vaccines have been taken. The severe threat has come and gone. It’s time to return.

Don’t let the Lord ask you where you are on Sundays. Sure, you can worship God anywhere (I hear that a lot). But we need each other. We desire community. We grow stronger with other believers in our lives. You can’t do that in front of the tv or computer. If you are one of those who has become comfortable at home, I want to encourage you today to return to the Lord’s house. He wants you there. And others need you there.

Let us not forsake the assembling of the body of Christ, Lord. Remind us how important it is to be together in worship.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Commitment, Examples, Following, Life, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

INFAMY

HOSEA 6:9

“And as a band of robbers lie in wait for a person, so a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; certainly they have committed an act of infamy.”

On December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into World War II. Our President then was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He made a speech that day that used the word “infamy.” Here is a link to that famous speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xd8MpR-5Ko

Infamy means something that is well known for a bad quality. Hosea compares the priests to that. They are well known for their bad qualities. He actually compared them to a band of robbers. He says they murder on their way to Shechem. Not high praise for religious leaders. Truly they had committed acts of infamy.

APPLICATION

What do you want to be known for? I doubt it is for things like the priests did. Who wants that? But have you given it any real thought? What will your legacy be? When you make your journey to your eternal home, what will your family and friends say about yet? Better yet, what will unbelievers say about you?

Think about for a second. We should have the desire to leave this world marked by our presence. There should be some lasting impact on those around us. I don’t mean we meant anything. What I mean is our life should be so full of Jesus that we leave His mark wherever we go. Our legacy is Jesus. Our impact is the cross.

Can you see that? We need to make every day about impacting one person for Jesus. Maybe it’s a waitress at a restaurant we are eating at. Perhaps it’s the lawn guy who comes each week to mow your lawn. Maybe it’s that neighbor across the street who no one on your street really talks to. We need to be the feet of Jesus today.

Open my eyes, Lord, to those around me who need a Savior. I want to leave Your imprint on their lives.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Examples, Following, Infidelity, Judgment, Scripture

DON’T DO IT

HOSEA 4:15

“Though you, Israel, play the prostitute, Judah must not become guilty; Also you are not to go to Gilgal, nor go up to Bethaven and take the oath: ‘As the LORD lives!’”

We can all remember warnings we received as a child. Our parents would say, “Don’t touch the stovetop.” Or perhaps your mom would yell, “Don’t run with that stick. You’ll put your eye out.” Whatever the warning, we had a choice to make. We could either heed the warning or ignore it. I have the scars of some of my decisions.

Hosea turns his attention from Israel to Judah in today’s verse. Israel had rebelled against the Lord and was suffering the judgment of God. Hosea now warns Judah to not do what Israel did. He is trying to help them avoid some scars. He doesn’t want them to follow Israel’s example.

APPLICATION

We all have people in our lives that we like to emulate. Their lives inspire us. We want to be like them in so many ways. I could name a few people in my life who have shown me how to “do things right.” But I also know that they are not perfect. They can make bad choices. I have to be able to discern through God’s Word when they have done that.

We do have a perfect example to follow. Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life. Everything He did was to please the Father. If we do what He did, we will be on the right path. We can trust His example. There is nothing He did that will lead us astray. So, just follow Him.

The bottom line is who are we going to follow. I choose Jesus. Does that mean I will walk along paths of roses and lilies? Not hardly. Remember His path leads to suffering. His path will lead to others hating you. But His path is the safest path you can follow.

I will follow Your example, Jesus. I know if I do that I am going to be living for God each day.

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