Belief, Bible, Blessing, Christ's Return, Confidence, Contentment, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Promises, Rest

I AM NOT AFRAID

MICAH 4:4

“Instead, each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, because the mouth of the LORD of armies has spoken.”

When I was growing up, my friends and I would often dare each other to do something. Sometimes it was approaching a scary looking house and knocking on the door. We had a few houses like that in my hometown. Other times it was to do some stupid physical challenge. We always said, “I’m not afraid.” Of course, inside we were trembling.

Finally, one day we can all say with confidence that we are not afraid. Just like Micah describes here in today’s verse, we can sit under our vine or fig tree (I don’t have either of these, lol) and rest. The LORD of armies has spoken. When God speaks, all is settled.

APPLICATION

Won’t that be great? No more worries. No more problems. All is at rest. That is hard to imagine, isn’t it? We live with issues and problems every day. Some of those are big, like dealing with cancer or the loss of a loved one. Other things are small, like paying that bill or a challenging child. We all have to deal with these kinds of things now.

But one day soon we will have perfect rest. I love to fish (as you who read my blogs regularly or who know me personally can attest). I love to be on the lake or at a pond early in the morning when the water is calm. It is like glass. That kind of peaceful scene will be forever. No more disturbances.

I choose to live in that peace today. I choose to believe my heavenly Father wants me to live that way. He does not desire troubles for me. Just the opposite, He desires peace. Only His peace can provide this for me. His peace gives me peace. Are you living in His peace today?

Thank You for giving me peace today, Lord. I choose to live in it.

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A LARGE PLACE

JONAH 3:3

“So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk.”

I’ve been to some big cities – New York City, London, Nairobi, Minneapolis. I could go on. Fortunately, I did not have to walk to them. I had a car or another mode of transportation. But you know, I seldom thought about how big those cities were or too much about all the thousands of people in them who needed to hear about Jesus. I usually was on a mission to get something accomplished and didn’t want someone or something to slow me down. I repent of that. That was wrong.

Jonah was now going to Nineveh, that “exceedingly large city.” It was known for its greatness. Even though it was physically great, it was spiritually weak. The gods the Ninevites worshipped were not gods at all. We know that. Jonah knew that. And he was sent to tell them that.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s think about this for a second. Jonah was sent into enemy territory, to one of their greatest cities, and was told to tell them to repent. He probably expected laughter, at the very least. Jonah may have expected to be arrested and perhaps even killed. Why shouldn’t he expect that? No one likes to be told they are sinners.

But Jonah responded in the positive as fast as he had responded in the negative. He “got up and went” as compared to “got up to flee.” He was ready now to deliver God’s message no matter the cost. How about you? Are you willing to risk it all for Jesus? He may call on you to do just that.

I am finally at a point in my life where I really don’t care if people think I am a little crazy about Jesus. I have seen some amazing things in the past few years which have required me to reexamine how I see the Spirit moving. Living that out may put me at odds with some people. That’s okay, as long as I am true to my Savior’s calling. Will you do the same?

Father God, give me a Nineveh! Show me where you want me to be used.

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DISTRESS

JONAH 2:2

and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I called for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.’”

Have you ever been in distress? Through my illness and my two stem cell transplants, I can honestly say there were times I felt in distress. I was in anguish. I felt afflicted. Those were very adverse times. My health was fading, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. All I could do was turn to the Lord.

Jonah was in distress. His words remind me of Psalm 118:5 that says, “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” I find that kind of humorous – “a large place.” Jonah was indeed set in a large place – the belly of a big fish. He probably preferred a different setting.

APPLICATION

When you are in distress, what do you do? Who do you turn to? Some of us turn to alcohol. Others turn to drugs. Some get so involved in church they forget their distress. None of these work. You cannot medicate yourself or busy yourself out of distress. There is only one answer – Jesus.

Even in the belly of that fish, Jonah knew God would hear him. He did not know how God would answer, but at least He knew his prayers were ascending. They were not bouncing off the walls of that belly. We often feel our prayers are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere. Do not doubt the hearing capability of God.

There are so many examples I could give you of how God came through for me during times of distress. He would send a friend to see me in the hospital. He might burden someone to email me or call me. Just call on Him amid your distress. He can work miracles in and through us, if we will just believe.

O Lord, I have called on You many times, and You have always come through for me.

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NOW I BELIEVE

JONAH 1:16

“Then the men became extremely afraid of the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Sometimes seeing is believing. For instance, try to explain to someone who has never seen the ocean what it is. It’s more than a large body of water. It has its own ecosystem with fish and clams and shrimp. It has waves (they may ask what a wave is) that break on the shore. Explain that, lol.

These sailors were now seeing the power of God in the stillness of the sea. They saw His power in the storm, but this stillness was supernatural. The storm stopped when they threw Jonah overboard. His words had come true. They worshipped Jehovah God right there on the deck of the ship and probably offered a sacrifice as they made those vows. They now belonged to Him.

APPLICATION

Many times, we never see the result of our witness. We plant seeds and leave, only to have someone else come along and water and perhaps reap the harvest. Jonah never saw the change in the sailors’ lives. He was swimming for his life. Hmmm, that applies to us today.

In the midst of our trials, we are so often so busy trying to survive that we forget others are watching us. They are observing how we handle this trial. Does our speech match our deeds? Is our walk matching our talk?

Don’t forget that. People are watching to see if your words become true. I am not saying you are a prophet, lol. I am saying that you need to speak truth at all times. Then you are to make sure you are walking in that truth. The people who are watching you are looking for glimpses of Jesus, whom you proclaim. Can they see Him?

O God, my Savior, You may throw me in a raging sea only for the benefit of someone else so they can see Your power. Use me Lord.

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CRYING TO THE WRONG GOD

JONAH 1:5

“Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they hurled the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the stern of the ship, had lain down, and fallen sound asleep.”

So many times, we get in a mess and try to figure it out all on our own. Or we enlist the help of others who make things worse. I remember one time I was trying fix something on one of our cars. I struggled for hours to put this part on, but it just would not go on for me. I asked my neighbor for help the next morning. You know what happened? It went on for him on the first try. He had the expertise I didn’t.

These sailors are crying out their gods for help. The problem with that is those gods did not exist. They had no power to calm the storm. This was a God storm. This was one created by Him. Only He could calm it and only when it was time. It wasn’t time yet.

APPLICATION

Who are you crying out to right now? If it is anything or anyone but God, you are wasting your breathe. Why do you think you can’t find the answers anywhere else? Is it pride? Or just plain stubbornness? I know you probably think I am being a bit harsh. I guess I am. I don’t want to offend you, but I do want to move you to the right place.

Jonah was sleeping during this storm not because he was at peace. He was simply ignoring it. He was hiding from God in the stern of the ship, oblivious to what He was doing to get his attention. We do the same thing. We withdraw and hide, pretending the problem will just go away. It won’t.

Thanks be to God that He does not quit. He does not let up. If that storm had calmed down at the cries of those sailors to their gods, they would have thought their gods did it. God was teaching those sailors a lesson as much as He was Jonah. Are you learning anything in your storm?

I hate the storms, Lord, but I do love the peace that comes afterwards. I will trust You through the storm.

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HERE IT COMES

OBADIAH 15

“For the day of the LORD is near for all the nations. Just as you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.

Doomsday! You know you can’t avoid it. The weight of it is excruciating. The dreaded bathroom scales. No one wants to step on that thing. Am I right? I am currently on ANOTHER diet, lol. I need to shed some pounds that have creeped on over the winter.

That dreaded moment is nothing in comparison with what was headed Edom’s way. “The day of the LORD” was commonly known as a day of judgment. Obadiah poured out those words, which were very similar to the prophet Joel, when he said in Joel 3:7, ‘thy reward shall return upon thine own head.’ Edom knew exactly what Obadiah meant! Doomsday!

APPLICATION

What are you dreading right now? Are you dreading death? How about the end of the world? Those are both definites. They are going to happen. I hope that doesn’t scare you. That’s not my intention. Fear can motivate you, if it is the right kind of fear. The fear of the Lord is a good thing. Let me explain.

The fear of the Lord is a reverence for His holiness. The fear of the Lord leads me to bow down before Him in awe of His presence. The Lord does not scare me. In fact, it is just the opposite. The thought of the Lord spurs me on to holy living.

I don’t fear the Lord in a negative way because He’s my Father. He’s my Protector. He’s my Shield and Buckler. He carries me in His arms when I am too weak to walk. He soothes me when I am anxious. There is nothing to dread! I welcome Him.

O sweet Lord, You comfort me beyond anything I could ever ask or think.

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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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EARTHQUAKE

AMOS 8:8

“Because of this will the land not quake, and everyone who lives in it mourn? Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, and it will be tossed about and subside like the Nile of Egypt.”

When my daughter was a little girl, I would often wake her in the mornings with an “earthquake.” I would put a hand on the bed on each side of her and start shaking very slightly. I would gradually shake her stronger until she was literally bouncing off the bed. She loved it (well, at least most mornings she did, lol).

Amos uses the imagery of an earthquake causing the earth to rise and fall, like the Nile River rose and fell. The undulations of the earth would be felt through the whole nation. There would be no mistake of what was happening. Fear would be rampant.

APPLICATION

Has God shaken your world yet? We all need our world shaken. Now, I don’t mean a physical earthquake. I’m referring to a spiritual earthquake. We need to be so shaken that nothing remains as it was. Everything is rearranged.

We tend to have our priorities messed up most of the time. We put so many things above God. We delegate God to the time we have left in the day. God deserves the best part of our day. He deserves to be first on our agenda. Everything else comes behind Him.

The only way I can do that is to get up early in the morning. If I don’t spend my time with Jesus then, I get sidetracked and busy, and He loses His spot. I am not saying everyone should get up at 4 a.m. and pray. Most of us would be asleep by 4:03, lol. But you have to find that time when it’s set aside for God. God will honor you with His presence, I promise.

I look forward to spending time with You, Lord. You have truly shaken my world for the better.

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WHO TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT

JOEL 2:10

“Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon become dark, and the stars lose their brightness.”

Have you ever been in a room when someone turned off the lights and left you in the dark? It can be frightening, can’t it? One moment you have light and the next you don’t. In one second, you go from seeing well to seeing nothing. In the 21st century we understand how all this works, but in Joel’s day it was a whole different story.

In today’s verse the locusts are described as so thick that they blot out the sun, moon and stars. The sky seems to shake at their presence (the vibration of their wings could cause that). The people of Judah would be in sunlight or moonlight one moment and suddenly darkness. For the people of this time, I am sure it was scary.

APPLICATION

Our Lord makes a reference in Luke 21:25-26 to a similar event. “‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,’” The Lord was saying this in reference to His return one day. I am not saying locust swarms indicate Christ’s return. But even He showed how God will use nature to tell a story.

The truth is there are signs all around us of Christ’s imminent return. So many prophecies have been fulfilled. It seems the world is teetering on the edge. Are you looking for Him? Are you aware of what is going on in our world that is preparing for that glorious day? You should be.

I believe He is coming soon. That may prove to be wrong. That’s okay. I am not building a bunker to hide in. I am okay with whatever happens because my trust is in Him, not the news. But I truly believe it’s near. I am okay with that as well. If the sun and moon are blotted out, I am trusting Him. Are you?

I will trust in the one who is my light. Though the sun and the moon fall, I will trust in Jesus.

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LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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