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, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Fasting, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing, Humility, Salvation, Scripture

PROCLAIM THE FAST

JONAH 3:5

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.”

When is the last time you have fasted? For most people, this is a rare thing. We either don’t think about it or we don’t believe in it. I have to admit that I don’t fast regularly. Usually, I fast for a specific reason. I want to hear from God about something. I really should make it a regular thing in my life. Will you pray for me that I would do that?

The people of Nineveh believed in God because they heard Jonah’s message. He told them their city was going to be overthrown in 40 days. That would wake you up. They repented, which is evident by the fasting and the sackcloth. They humbled themselves before a holy God seeking forgiveness. Would God forgive them or not? We’ll get to that in a few days.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t just about going without food. It is much more than that. It is humbling yourself. It is making a sacrifice. It is denying yourself of physical things in order to receive spiritual things. What do I mean by that?

When you fast, your mind becomes clearer. The initial hunger pains remind you to pray. As you deny yourself food and concentrate on the Lord, those pains subside. Don’t get me wrong. You still get hungry, but now you know why you are doing this. God is speaking.

I really can’t fully explain the spiritual benefits of fasting. It is something you have to experience yourself. If you are able physically to fast, let me encourage you to do that. As you humble yourself, the Lord will speak. His voice will come through. Now, fasting isn’t required to hear God’s voice, but it clears the path. Give it a try. It’s easier than wearing sackcloth, lol.

I deny myself in order to hear You clearly, O Lord. I do want to hear You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Accused, Bible, Consequences, Forgiveness, God's Will, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

TAKING THE BLAME

JONAH 1:12

“And he said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, because I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.’”

No one likes to take the blame for anything, whether they have done it or not. Accepting the blame for stuff goes against our very nature. We don’t want to be judged and ridiculed. It’s better to lie and let someone else get the blame. That’s just the way we are.

Jonah, however, accepts the blame. He says, “because I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” Doesn’t that sound noble? But I think Jonah had another motive. See what he tells them to do. “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea.” I believe he wanted to die rather than go to Nineveh. Not so noble.

APPLICATION

What have you done that you failed to take the blame for? Come on, be honest. We’ve all done it. Isn’t it time to make that right? But don’t use the same motive as Jonah. You need to face the consequences. That’s what God expects. Own up to it.

But our flesh rebels against that. We think if we’re not caught, it’s all good. Not so. Not taking blame for the wrong you have done is sin. There, I said it. Now confess it as sin and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Jonah didn’t do that in today’s verse. He owned up to it, but he didn’t confess it.

I am so glad I have a compassionate God who loves me unconditionally. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Oh, how sweet are those words. I depend on them. In fact, Psalm 62 says so. “My salvation and my honor depend on God. Aren’t you glad we can depend on Him to make all things right?

I love You, Lord. I know I can do nothing unless You are working in and through me.

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Accountability, Bible, Forgiveness, Guilt, Modeling, Scripture

SIN LEAKS

JONAH 1:10

“Then the men became extremely afraid, and they said to him, ‘How could you do this?’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.”

Hanging around with the wrong crowd can get you in trouble. I remember getting in trouble for a lot of things I did. Fair enough. But when I was a freshman in college, I got put on probation for my affiliation with my dorm mates. I was home visiting my parents on the weekend that caused this. But because they could not verify every person who was guilty, our entire dorm hall was put on probation. I was punished for something I didn’t even do.

These sailors were alarmed when they heard what Jonah had done. They were not only afraid. They were also mad. Jonah’s disobedience had put them in trouble. His sin had leaked. Yep, his sin had put them in danger. They weren’t running from God. However, God was using this situation to get their attention as well.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a difficult question. Has your sin leaked? Has it spread onto others? Are others suffering because of your sin? Fathers, do you think you can get away with treating your wives harshly and not affect your children? Wives, do you think you can disrespect your husband without modeling the wrong behavior to your daughters?

I could name a multitude of other sins that we commit that leak on others. Sin has consequences. Unfortunately, our sins often affect those around us, especially our families. We need to stop and confess all those right now. I’ll pause here…do that…right now.

I know I have done things in my past that influenced someone else. For that I am sorry. I have confessed those as sin. I have asked for God’s forgiveness and when possible, the forgiveness of the one I offended. We all need to do that.

O Lord, I am guilty of leaking my sin on others. Forgive me of not be obedient to You.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Abuse, Anger, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Courage, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

RETRIBUTION

OBADIAH 18

“‘Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,’ for the LORD has spoken.”

When you’ve been wronged, it is only natural to want to get “payback.” Our flesh demands it. We can’t wait to see those who have hurt us hurt themselves. I didn’t say that was right, only that our flesh leans that way. God calls us to a higher standard, a different response.

Esau has finally and completely been dealt with by God. He has made Jacob “a fire” and Joseph “a flame.” They will be rekindled, and life will emerge from death. Esau, on the other hand, will have “no survivor.” And those final words of today’s verse, “for the LORD has spoken,” says it all. Finality! Completion.

APPLICATION

Wait on the Lord and see the splendor of His handiwork. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. But it’s so hard to wait when you are the one suffering. I understand that. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. I read stories of child abuse that angered me. I wanted those people punished for what they had done to an innocent child.

I quickly learned that I could not shoulder that burden. I was in no position to punish them. But I could extend the hand of Jesus to them. That was hard at first. I remember telling my staff that and encouraging them to do the same. It was amazing how much better the children responded to us when they saw us loving their parents.

I don’t which side of the fence you are on today – Jacob or Esau. It really doesn’t matter. Both sides need Jesus. Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him? Do that today. Lay down all your intentions on getting even. It’s not worth it and doesn’t satisfy. Only Jesus does.

I love You, Lord, and I lift You up. I praise You for all You have done and continue to do in my life.

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Accountability, Accused, Anxiety, Bible, Consequences, Death, Fear, Forgiveness, Judgment, Scripture

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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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Alone, Battles, Bible, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing

NO WORD

AMOS 8:11

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.’”

I have a friend who goes on “Silent Retreats.” These retreats are designed for the participant to spend a weekend in total silence. After the initial instructions on Day 1, you spend the rest of the weekend without saying a word to anyone – no phone calls, no texts, etc. He says it really helps him hear from the Lord.

Amos is sharing God’s warning that there will come a famine of His words. That prophecy did come true during the almost 400 years of silence from God between the book of Malachi and the New Testament. Deafening quietness. No word for God. Despite the cries of the people, no word.

APPLICATION

I’m a talker, especially in the mornings. My wife bans me to another part of the house until she’s had her coffee because of that, lol. I can’t imagine going one day without talking to her. I love to talk to her. I want to know how she’s doing. I love to just hear her voice. Why? Because I love her.

So, I can’t imagine 400 years of not hearing from God. I get up every morning and spend time with Him. He talks to me through His Word. He talks to me through my prayer time. I hear because I’m listening. When those dry spells come, and they will, I search my heart for what is blocking His voice. It’s always me. It’s always my sin.

I want to hear from the Lord daily. That means I have to confess my sins to Him daily. The days I can’t recall a sin, I ask Him to forgive my forgetfulness. I know I have sinned in some way because I am still flesh and blood and subject to it. But with Christ as my guide, I can avoid most of those sins that so “easily entangle us.” Do you hear Him? Listen.

O Lord, I long to hear Your voice each day. I love the sound of Your voice as You guide and direct me.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Cheates, Commands, Consequences, Deceit, Deception, Double-minded, Forgiveness, Greed, Holy Spirit, Lying, Repentance, Scripture

CHEATERS

AMOS 8:5

“saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain; and the Sabbath, so that we may open the wheat market, to make the ephah smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales,’”

Everyone hates a cheater (well, most everyone). Don’t you hate it when you buy something only to find out it’s not as advertised? Just watch some late-night television to see some of those ads. A cheater only wants to line their pockets with ill gotten gain, with no regard to the person they have cheated.

Amos warns the Israelites of this practice in today’s verse. He describes them to the last detail. They kept the festivals and the Sabbath, but only in practice. Their hearts were far from God. Look what they did. They made their ephah a little smaller and their money the wrong weight. Even though they were warned about this in the Torah (Dy 25:13-15), they still did it.

APPLICATION

Why would you ever think about cheating someone? When I was young, my dad’s sister sold a house that my dad and uncle owned to their mother without his knowledge. She was getting house payments from her mother and stepfather for something she didn’t own. She cheated my dad, and it caused a rift between them for years. They did finally make up, but it took many years.

Now, my dad wasn’t a believer back then. He didn’t have the Holy Spirit to guide him toward reconciliation. I am not sure about my aunt. I never had the chance to ask her about her salvation. I pray she knew Jesus. My point is this – if we know the Lord, we won’t cheat others, and we will forgive those who cheat us.

Hmmm, that sounds very familiar. How about this verse? Matthew 6:12 “‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’” That’s what Jesus taught us in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Have you done that today? Ask Him.

O Father, forgive me. I fall so short of Your commandments.”

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