Advice, Anger, Battles, Bible, Bitterness, Darkness, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

MAD AT GOD

JONAH 4:1

“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”

Have you ever been mad at God? Maybe something didn’t go your way, so you blamed God. Perhaps you got sick and suffered greatly, so you got angry and refused to talk to Him. Maybe you lost a loved one prematurely, so, of course, it’s God’s fault. You are not alone. We’ve all done it at some point, I guess. Even Jonah!

Nineveh repents of their sins, and God spares them. Jonah should have been jumping up and down and claiming a victory for Jehovah. But Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites. He would have been just as happy if they had been wiped off the face of the earth. You know what? I don’t think God was too concerned that He “displeased Jonah.” God was looking at the big picture.

APPLICATION

What application do you see in this passage? One that I see is something a friend of mine used to say. “There is a God and I’m not Him.” I do not know the mind of God. I do not understand why He does the things He does. It is not for me to know. If He wants me to know, He’ll tell me. Until then, I trust His sovereign hand and serve Him.

Another thing I learn is it is okay to get mad at God. God did not strike Jonah dead because of his anger. If He had, Jonah 4:1 would be the end of the book, but it is not. We have ten more verses to see how God handles this anger of Jonah. God knows we are but dust. He understands the limitations of our minds and our mercy. But He will teach Jonah something.

I have to admit that I have been mad a God before. When I went through my chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant, I had a few days when I was angry. I didn’t lash out at Him, but I just didn’t talk to Him for a few days. I wanted out of this misery I was in and saw no escape. I knew and believed God could have healed me instantly, if He had wanted to, if that had been His plan. But He chose to leave me in the fire a little longer. I understand now, but back then I didn’t. I learned to talk to Him and just spill my guts. He can handle it. There is nothing you can’t tell Him. Talk to Him today.

I praise You, Father, for not getting angry at my anger towards You. Hold me close and remind me how much You love me.

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

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.

Standard
Abiding, Agreement, Asking, Bible, Doubts, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture, Submission

THE LORD RELENTED

AMOS 7:3

“The LORD relented of this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”

All my life I have been told that prayers can change things. I had always just accepted that as fact. I mean, why else should we pray? Yes, we acknowledge God as our Savior and Creator. We praise Him for who He is. We confess our sins to Him. And then we make our requests to Him. But why bother with that last step unless we believe we can change things with our prayers.

Amos cried out to God in verse 2, and it says in verse 3 that God relented. What does that mean? It means God changed His mind. Further punishment was withheld. God decided to not do what He had planned to do. Amos’ prayer moved God to change. Wow! Do you believe that is still possible?

APPLICATION

I believe with all my heart that is possible. I believe with all my heart that as I pray, submitting myself to His will, that He will hear my voice, bend His ear to earth and answer my prayer. Sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says not now. And other times He says yes.

I don’t know why He doesn’t always answer yes. I won’t know that until I am in heaven. But I am thankful for the times He does says yes. I don’t understand the mind of God. Who can? We have such finite minds. God works on a whole different realm than we do. I have to trust that.

I will, however, continue to pray, believing my prayers are being heard by the Creator of the universe. I may stir His heart as I pray and move Him to intercede in a way I had not even thought of. Based on that truth, I pray. I cry out like Amos. I am thankful that He is listening.

God, I cry out to You. I beseech You to move in my life and the lives of those who are reading this right now.

Standard
Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Faith, Gifts, Obedience, Scripture

NO THANK YOU

AMOS 5:22

“Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fattened oxen.”

Have you ever refused a gift from someone? Maybe it was because you didn’t like the gift or because you felt it was too extravagant. Whatever reason you had, you rejected it. You didn’t want it. You didn’t need it. Gifts are not gifts until they are received, right?

God is refusing the gifts of the Israelites. Their burnt offerings and grain offerings are not going to be accepted by Him. He knew the hearts of the givers. He knew of their unconfessed sins, so He was not going to take their sacrifices as if everything was just fine. God is a God of justice and righteousness.

APPLICATION

We half-heartedly offer God our sacrifices, don’t we? We bring our tithes and offerings to Him with impure motives. We want something back. We think if we give, He will give back. Even our time is a sacrifice. Do we give that joyfully or under compulsion?

As we give our tithes and offerings or our time and energy to the Lord, let’s examine our heart reason for the gift. Do we do this out of our love for Him? Are we only wanting to please Him to get something back in return? Remember, God knows our hearts. He knows what drives us to give to Him.

I am so thankful that I can give back to Him. He blesses me in so many ways every day. I could never repay Him. I can’t even try to. So, I give just because I love Him. I give my time and resources to further His kingdom. I want to honor Him and show that He is worthy of my praise and worship. Don’t you?

Lord, please receive my offering and sacrifices as I worship You. You deserve all the praise and glory and honor given.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Confession, Faith, Forgiveness, Gospel, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD

AMOS 4:12

“‘Therefore so I will do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.’”

Anytime you prepare to meet someone, don’t you do things to get ready? Usually, you get cleaned up and maybe clean your house. Depending on who the person is you may prepare a big meal and invite your friends. You see, preparing to meet someone takes preparation.

Israel had not prepared to meet their God. They had been living rebellious and sinful lives and weren’t ready to meet Him. Somehow, they had forgotten God had been with them from long ago. They had lost sight of that. Now, God tells them to prepare to meet Him. This was not going to be a pleasant meeting.

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. Are you prepared to meet your God? There are only two possible answers to that question. You are either ready or you’re not. And there is only one way to be ready. You have to turn to God, confess your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. You must accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior.

That’s how you prepare to meet your God. And guess what. God can’t wait to meet you – right there. The very moment you turn to Him He comes running to you. He has been looking forward to this meeting for a long time. He has longed to meet with you one on one. Isn’t that incredible?

I am so glad I made that decision back in 1977. I knew about God long before that, but I didn’t have a face-to-face meeting until then. I didn’t have to go looking for Him. I just had to prepare to meet Him, and He was there. Wow! I didn’t deserve it, but I got to meet with the Maker of the Universe. So can you.

Father God, I am humbled that You wanted to meet with me. Help me introduce others to You so they can have their own person meeting with You.

Standard
Abiding, Asking, Bible, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Listening, Scripture

REVEALED

Amos 3:7

“Certainly the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret plan to His servants the prophets.”

I’m a planner. I like to know what’s coming. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I just returned from Kenya where I had the privilege to teach Pastors and Church leaders in a conference through the ministry AMG (Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel). One thing I had to decide about the conference there is to not get too uptight about NOT knowing what was coming. Schedules there are “flexible,” to say the least.

Amos, however, is telling the nation of Israel what was coming. God had revealed it to him just like He had revealed things to Moses and Joshua. He revealed the flood to Noah and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham. He told Jonah about Nineveh. He told Joseph about the coming famine. God revealed things to His prophets so the people could prepare.

APPLICATION

I believe the Lord still reveals His plans to His children. He wants us to know things. He isn’t trying to trick us or fool us. What has the Lord revealed to you? Nothing? Well…are you listening? God speaks to us through His Word. He speaks to us as we pray. Let’s talk about prayer a bit. What does your prayer life consist of?

You see, if our prayer life is only about our requests to Him, we have no room to hear. We need to be quiet sometime and listen. Carl, are you saying God will speak to me? I sure am. I don’t mean in an audible voice, but He will speak. In order to hear Him, though, you have to be listening. You have to know His voice. His Spirit speaks to us. Just be quiet and listen.

I have learned to check those “hearings.” If what I hear glorifies Him, then I am sure it is of the Spirit. If it just glorifies me, it’s my flesh or it’s from the evil one. Always check it according to God’s Word. God will never tell you something that goes against His Word. So…get quiet and listen. He wants you to hear Him. You may be amazed what He reveals to you.

O God, I love to hear Your voice. I love to know that You want to speak to me.

Standard
Abiding, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Modeling, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

THE STREAK

Amos 2:16

“’Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked on that day,’” declares the LORD.”

Back in the 70’s there was a phenomenon called streaking that caught up a generation of young people. These streakers would strip off their clothes and run across a ball field or a basketball court or any other public venue where they could get attention. They had no reason for doing this except to simply run naked and shock people. There was even a song written about it by Ray Stevens called “The Streak.”

There was nothing funny about the streaking mentioned in today’s verse. These brave warriors of Israel would be running naked due to fear. The Lord declared it, so it must be so. He was telling the nation of Israel over these last several verses that their judgment was here. Not even the bravest warriors could stand up to Him or those He may send to carry out the judgment.

APPLICATION

I can hear you now, Well, Carl, I am not going to be streaking anywhere. I hope that’s true, lol. No one wants to see that. But how often do we flee from our battles naked? We go into our daily walk undressed. Ephesians 6:10 tells us pretty clearly that we should put on the full amour of God. That’s head to toe coverage. We are in a battle every day and we cannot go in naked. If we do, the same thing that happened to those warriors in today’s verse will happen to us.

Just how naked are you? If you don’t put on the full armor of God, you are naked. You can’t go in partially dressed. You can’t pick and choose which part of the armor you want to wear today. You have to do put it all on or you are open to attack. You might as well be naked. I hope you understand that. It’s the full armor.

I like to start with the girding part – the truth. Then the breastplate of righteousness. My feet are shod with the gospel of peace. I am wearing my helmet of salvation. I have my shield of faith and my sword – the Word of God. With that protection, I can face the flaming arrows of the evil one. I can defend my faith and walk securely. So are you streaking or preparing for battle? It’s your choice but choose wisely.

O God, I praise You for giving me the garments to wear. I know I am protected by Your armor.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Faith, Faithfulness, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Victors

FORGOTTEN VICTORIES

AMOS 2:9

“‘Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, though his height was like the height of cedars and he was as strong as the oaks; I also destroyed his fruit above and his roots below.’”

I am a University of Georgia Bulldog fan. I went to school there from 1978 to 1982. So, I cheer loud and strong for the Red and Black whenever I get a chance. But as excited as I get about our football victories, I couldn’t tell you the exact dates and times of each victory. Sure, some of them stand out, but most fade into my memory. Forgotten victories.

The Israelites had forgotten how God had destroyed their enemies as they entered the Promised Land so many years earlier. In just one example, the Lord reminds them of the Amorites, of which dwelt the Rephaim who were giants in height. Their size alone brought fear out of men. But Jehovah destroyed them for the Hebrew children. Forgotten victories.

APPLICATION

How many victories has God done in your life for you to quickly forget them? Perhaps you had a bill you couldn’t pay, and God provided for you. Maybe you had a health scare from which God delivered you. Your child was sick with fever, and you prayed all night long. Do I need to go on? Forgotten victories.

The Lord does so many things for us in our daily battles. We forget how faithful He is despite out unfaithfulness. He delivers us when we don’t deserve delivering. He defends us from our adversary, the devil, when we have faltered in our faith. Every victory we have in life can be traced back to our Deliverer. As a child of the King, our victories all belong to Him. Forgotten victories.

Don’t let your life be filled with forgotten victories. Make a log of them. Write them down. Keep track of them. Not for bragging purposes but for celebration purposes. I recently rang the bell at my Oncologist’s office indicating I am in remission from a disease I have. That victory belongs to God. He was the One who healed me. Remembered victory!

O Lord, I praise You for every victory in my life. The battle belongs to You.

Standard
Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Humility, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERYONE WHO CALLS

JOEL 2:32

“‘And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.’”

You’ve probably have seen an action movie where the bad guys are looking for someone. This person is hiding and refusing to make a sound. All of a sudden the good guys show up and get rid of the bad guys. When they try to find the person hiding, they are still refusing to come out since they are not sure who is trying to coax them out of their hiding place. If they don’t come out, they won’t be saved.

Joel is telling the Judeans that if you come to God, you will be saved. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved. Isn’t that awesome? We see this message echoed throughout Scripture. All we have to do to be saved is call on His name. Joel knew this and wanted everyone else to know that too. Just call on His name.

APPLICATION

All you have to do is call on His name. Have you done that? If not, He’s waiting. Each Sunday when I am leading Children’s Church where I serve, I tell the children the same thing. I tell them if the Lord is talking to you (and you will know it if He is), just call on Him. I walk them through the sinner’s prayer in which they call on His name.

So many are lost today just because they refuse to call on Him. They will call on everyone else but not Him. They don’t want to bow to Him. They don’t want to surrender. They don’t want to humble themselves before a holy God. But you can’t come to Him with a proud, arrogant heart. That won’t work.

I am so glad I made that decision back on July 31, 1977. I was a proud and arrogant young man. I knew coming to Him meant brokenness. But I came to Him. I called on His name. I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him. That evening I began my journey to know Him. I am still learning. He is such a big God. There is so much to know. Will you join in learning more about Him?

Lord, I am so grateful when I called on Your name, You answered. You were waiting for me.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Commands, Contentment, Courage, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Leading, Obedience, Reward, Scripture, Surrender

GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

Standard