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.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Distractions, Enemies, Fear, God's Will, Gospel, Obedience, Scripture

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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PROCLAIM

JONAH 3:2

“‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’”

Whenever I have a sermon to prepare, I spend as much time praying about the passage as I do studying the passage. I want to make sure I am hearing from the Lord as to what He would have me say. I can come up with a sermon. That’s not a problem. But I want to speak His message, not mine.

The Hebrew text could be translated “preach to it the preaching.” In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “proclamation” is only used one time in the OT – right here. Why is that? I always wonder that. I believe the Lord wants us to take a good look at His message to Jonah. Notice how His message differed a little from the first time. “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.” The Lord, I think, wanted Jonah to get to Nineveh and then He would reveal His message.

APPLICATION

What is the message the Lord has given you today? To whom do you need to go and proclaim it? As I write this blog, I am in Norway preparing to take part in a men’s conference. Our main speaker is always sensitive to receiving “downloads” from God. He wants to make sure what he is speaking is from Him.

Right now, he is still waiting on his luggage to get here. That’s a distraction. He is aware of that. So, we are gathering in few minutes to pray for clarity of thought and message. When we get that message from the Lord, the devil does not want us to deliver it and will do everything he can to distract us. Don’t let that happen.

Receiving God’s message is sweet. Hearing His voice and knowing it is Him is precious. But sweeter still is delivering that message and seeing people come to Christ. It is His message, not yours. It is His results, not yours.

Let me hear Your message clearly, Lord. I want to speak only Your words to others.

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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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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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REPENT

JONAH 1:2

“Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Many years ago, while moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, I was following my wife through the hills of northern Alabama. She had our infant daughter in the car with her, while I was following in the moving truck with our four-year-old son. She was falling asleep and weaving all over the road. In the truck I could not get her attention by flashing my lights or honking my horn. I just knew I was going to watch her drive off the road and down the hill. I was trying to save her, but she wouldn’t listen. (She did finally wake up).

God tells Jonah to go tell the Ninevites how to get saved. He was sending Jonah on a specific mission to a specific people. God had seen “their wickedness” and decided it was time to take action. He wanted to give them the chance to be forgiven and come to Him.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to get someone’s attention about God? Some people are like my wife in that car. They can’t seem to hear the cries from God for them to come to Him. They are locked on to their own path and nothing is going to deter them. They don’t even know they are about to drive off a cliff.

Others God knows are just ripe for the harvest. He has already prepared their hearts. That’s why sometimes it is so easy to lead someone to Christ. They are like the Ninevites – eager to know the truth.

Boy, I am so glad I heard the words of the Lord. I am thankful He has caused me to turn towards Him and receive salvation. I am trying to be more mindful of those opportunities to share the Gospel. I’m not judged by their response. I am judged by God only by my decision to be obedient. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving me and giving the opportunity to share with others.

Check out our ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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DON’T DO THAT HERE

AMOS 7:13

“But do not prophesy at Bethel any longer, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”

Some people can get on your last nerve. Am I right? They have a way of annoying you and don’t even realize it. Some of the things they do aren’t bad. They are just irritating. For instance, someone who hums a lot can push you to your limit. The humming isn’t bad. It just never stops. You want to tell them to go hum someplace else.

Amaziah continues speaking to Amos in verse 13. That’s basically what he says. He tells Amos if he is gong to prophesy, do it someplace else. The king can’t be bothered. What Amos was saying might upset the king, and Amaziah didn’t want to see that. Hmmm, I wonder why.

APPLICATION

We should be so annoying. Let me explain. I don’t really want us to annoy people, but I do want us to continue to talk about Jesus. I want people to see me coming and know they are going to hear something about Jesus. I pray I say it in a way that encourages them and does not drive them away.

Being consistent in our witness is challenging. My circle of influence seems to be around “church folks.” I don’t get much exposure to non-believers. I have to purposely seek out that group. But that is something I need to be more consistent in doing.

My prayer for us today is that we all get busy. I pray we all can be as “annoying” as Amos was to Amaziah. I pray everything we say is true and points to Jesus. I pray the Lord leads people into our lives who need to hear this message of forgiveness and grace. Amen?

Lord, help us reach others with Your Word. Put those in our path today who need this lifegiving word from You.

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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.

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ALARMS

JOEL 2:1

Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; indeed, it is near,

We’ve all heard alarm bells or sirens. When you’re driving and you hear a siren, what do you do? You immediately look around to see where it is coming from so you can get out of the way, if needed. Alarms are meant to get our attention. They are warning of us of danger, in the case of a fire alarm. They may be warning of us of approaching bad weather or a tornado. Alarms are meant to help us find safety.

Joel begins chapter two doing the same thing for the people of Judah. Trumpets that had been meant to signify times of worship are now used to send alarms. They were being warned of God’s judgment. The people should be trembling. When God warns His judgment is coming, we better take that seriously. Judah was nearing their judgment.

APPLICATION

How has the Lord warned you? Have you heard the alarms? Unfortunately, people seem to be deaf to the alarms today. God’s warnings are all around us. He is constantly reminding people of His judgment to come. The Gospel is being preached all around, but so many ignore the warnings. They simply don’t believe it is real.

Our responsibility to sound the alarm hasn’t changed. We still need to be diligent to let others know that God’s judgment is real. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Think about your neighbors. Think about your family members. Where will they be when they face God’s judgment one day?

I have family members who need the Lord. I have neighbors who need a Savior. Will you join me in sounding the alarm before it’s too late? As long as we have breath, we need to be sharing the good news with others. Sound it loud and strong for all to hear.

Father, I will sound the alarm of Your judgment to come. Help me lead others to Your throne of grace.

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FOUR GENERATIONS

JOEL 1:3

“Tell your sons about it, and have your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation.”

I am involved with a men’s ministry called Every Man A Warrior. In fact, I am going to be making a change in my ministry to serve with them full-time in a few months. One verse we talk about a lot is 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, “These things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who be qualified to teach others.”

Joel is saying the same thing in verse 3 above. Fathers tell sons who tell their sons who tell their sons. Four generations. But Joel is telling these dads to pass on the warning he is about to give. Judgment was falling on Judah, and it was going to last a while, for generations. They needed to know what was coming.

APPLICATION

The application is pretty straightforward. We need to be passing down our faith to our future generations. Replication of our faith is key. It’s been said that Christianity is one generation away from vanishing. We have to invest in our children. Some of us have the privilege to invest in our grandchildren, as well.

If you have children, are you discipling them in the ways of our Lord? Men, have you spent some time with another man or group of men discipling them into disciplemakers? Don’t tell me you don’t have time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s really just a matter of priorities.

I love investing in men’s lives. I love seeing them “get it.” As men become disciplemakers, they can begin to find other guys to invest in. Replication has started. Generations of faith are being built. That is what it is all about. This excites me. I pray it excites you.

Give me others to invest in. Help me continue the story.

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