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.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Boasting, Consequences, Enemies, God's Will, Hatred, Humility, Love, Scripture

REVELRY

OBADIAH 16

“For just as you drank on My holy mountain, all the nations will drink continually. They will drink to the last drop and become as if they had never existed.”

Just recently the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship over the UNC Tarheels. Lawrence, Kansas is the home of the Jayhawks. That town went wild celebrating the win. You could describe their celebration as revelry, noisy partying and merrymaking.

This was the scene in Israel when they were overthrown. Their enemies, including Edom, drank and drank, celebrating Israel’s defeat. But God warns them in that last phrase that they too would cease to exist. He said they would, “become as if they had never existed.” All this was because they had sided against their brother.

APPLICATION

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating, even partying, if it is not at someone else’s expense. Carl, I would never do that. Oh yeah? Let someone you don’t “care for” get caught doing something bad. Do you celebrate their punishment? Shouldn’t we instead want to try to help them?

This world is full of sinners. Some of them will seek to do us harm or take advantage of us. What would Jesus do if someone did Him wrong? Oh wait, they did. What did He do? He was humble and meek. He never sought to get even (and He could have). He saw their sin and hated it, but He loved the sinner.

Don’t be an Edomite. Don’t revel at someone else’s downfall. What a perfect time to witness to them. When someone is suffering, they are usually open to our comfort from the Lord. Use this opportunity to reach out to them and show them Jesus’ love. You just might see them respond in a way you never dreamed of.

Lord, I ask You to forgive me for reveling in my enemy’s downfall. Help me to reach out to them with the hands of Jesus.

Standard
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.

Standard
Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Love, Scripture

LOVE YOUR BROTHER

OBADIAH 10

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be eliminated forever.”

I just finished a weekend with about 170 men at a conference in the hills of Tennessee. It was awesome. The one thing that was apparent was the love the guys had for each other. That love crossed cultural and racial lines. Looking around the room while these men worshipped together has to look a lot like heaven.

Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had warred against his brother. God was not pleased with that. He had not shown love to him. Quite the contrary. When they battled, they were brutal. Their aggression toward their blood relatives was horrendous. God expects us to love our brothers.

APPLICATION

What does it mean to love your brother? It means accepting their faults and not judging them for everything. It means coming alongside them when they are down. It means coming to the rescue. It means bearing their burdens.

Who is your brother? God’s Word tells us. We have a family that is eternal. All those who are of the household of God, no matter where they live, are our brothers (and sisters). We don’t have the right to pick and choose whom we love in God’s family. We love them all.

Is there someone in the family that you need to show love to today? Give them a call. Send them a text. Let them know they are loved. I try to text at least one person a day and let them know they are loved. Try that for a week and see how you feel. You will be amazed.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Help me to love all Your children as You do.

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Contentment, Encouragement, Intimacy, Love, Scripture

I KNEW YOU

HOSEA 13:5 

“I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.” 

I have been married to my wife for over 35 years now. You would think by now I would know her pretty well. But there are still things about her that I am learning. Isn’t that amazing? Maybe it’s because she has not revealed all her secrets to me yet. That’s probably it, lol. More than likely it’s because I have not been observant enough over the years. 

In today’s verse, the word “cared” is the Hebrew word yada. This is an important word used throughout the Old Testament. It can mean to know, to know very well, to understand and even mean to have relations. The point is this – God knew Israel intimately. They were His people. He had chosen them. They were His. 

APPLICATION 

That is still true today. God knows us. He knows us well. He created us. He knows what makes us tick. He knit us in our mother’s womb. So, we can’t use the excuse that God just doesn’t understand us. Of course, He does. No one understands us like He does. We just choose to not believe it or accept it. 

When you and I finally realize that God knows what is best for us and learn to trust Him in that, life is so much easier. Now, I don’t mean easy as in no trials. I mean easy in that now our life is His to live. We just sit back and watch Him work it. We will all face hard times, even seemingly impossible times, but knowing God knows us helps us rest. 

My brother went to his heavenly reward yesterday. His family watched this and are hurting. Thankfully, they know the Lord and can trust He knows exactly what they are going through. He knows them intimately. He loves them deeply. He will carry them through. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that my brother fully knows his Savior now.

Lord, I am so grateful You know me. You know me perfectly and intricately. 

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Intimacy, Listening, Love, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sincerity, Tears

CRY BABIES

HOSEA 7:14

And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn against Me.”

I have to admit – I’m a cry baby. I cry at Hallmark commercials. There is nothing wrong with tears. I like to say crying keeps your tear ducts open. Am I right? Of course, I am. But no one should cry just to cry. I’ve known people who did that. They use those tears to control people.

In today’s verse we see the people crying, but not out to God. They are just crying because of their situation. They are crying out for grain and new wine, perhaps to use in their pagan worship. Their tears are misplaced. Any tears they could shed should have been tears of repentance. But that is not what is happening here. They are just being cry babies.

APPLICATION

What are you crying about? Sometimes we just want to throw a pity party and cry about our situation. We don’t want to hear what the Lord has to say about our situation because we don’t want to admit our errors. We just want to feel bad. Doesn’t that sound strange?

However, the Lord is waiting to heal our hearts. He loves our tears, but not the attention-seeking ones. He loves tears of remorse. When we open our hearts and bare our souls, He is there to listen and comfort. Why don’t you do that? Let Him wipe your tears and pull you close. Don’t just rail at Him for “not seeing you.” He does. He knows.

It’s been a while since I cried deeply. The last time was back when I was going through my chemotherapy. I sobbed for healing. I didn’t think God was listening, but He was. He healed – in His time. He always does – in His own way.

Father, I praise You for Your comfort in the midst of my tears. May my tears always be received by You.

Standard
Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Redemption, Scripture, Slaves

PURCHASE PRICE

HOSEA 3:2

“So I purchased her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and a homer and a lethech of barley.”

When my daughter got married, our mutual friend in Uganda (who calls himself her African father) asked her fiancé for 20 cows. It was all a joke, but I managed to get a video recording of him asking that to play at their wedding. My son-in-law was glad he didn’t have to produce that.

Hosea had to buy his wife back from where she had obviously sold herself back into prostitution. Now you need to see this purchase price. Fifteen shekels was about half the price of a normal slave which indicated her worth now. Barley was the offering for adultery and the food for animals, which again showed how low her worth had become. But Hosea still bought her back.

APPLICATION

What is your worth? Do you see yourself worthy of purchase by God? Some people don’t. They don’t think God can forgive them for all their sins. Let me tell you He can. There is not a hole deep enough where God cannot reach down and pull you out. God wants everyone to come to him.

Perhaps you don’t think you need God. You’re just fine like you are. So not true. No one claim that. You may think you are too good for God. He has a way to humble those proud hearts, as well. Why? Because He desires a personal relationship with you.

So, what’s it going to be? Will you come to Him today? Let Him purchase you off the slave block of sin. You may think you’re free, but there is no freedom until you are His. Gomer thought she was free but was a slave to her sin. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for paying the price for my sin through Your Son Jesus. I am free because of His shed blood.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Love, Scripture, Sowing

WHY WE SOW

HOSEA 2:23

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

In the past I enjoyed gardening. Have you ever thought about the process of sowing and reaping? We plant a certain seed in order to reap a certain crop. You don’t plant okra seed and expect to reap tomatoes. There is only one way that works. Plant the seed for the crops you want to enjoy later.

God says here in Hosea 2:23 that He is going to sow “her” for Himself in the land. He is going to sow Israel to reap Israel. Sowing requires something to die first before it sprouts. The seed has to die and give birth to new growth. There’s a waiting period.

APPLICATION

Therein lies the question. Are you willing to die to yourself in order to rise up as a new growth in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside all the stuff required to be sowed by God? You will never produce new growth or bring in a harvest if you don’t let yourself be buried by God. He has to sow you. But rest assured, what He sows, He waters, He nourishes. He doesn’t forget where He planted you.

Once when I was planting a row in my garden, I forgot to mark what I planted in that row. I had to wait until the plants began to sprout and grow to find out what it was. I kept watering and fertilizing the seed, though. I knew it was something I wanted. God doesn’t do that. He knows exactly where He planted you and He already has a purpose for your new life.

Seed have to get dirty in order to fulfill its purpose. Allow God to get you dirty. Let Him plant you and water you to bring you to a place of new growth. You will be amazed at the number of people who will benefit from your crops.

Bury me Lord so I can sprout. Let me produce new growth which will bring forth fruit.

Standard
Advice, Advocate, Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Scripture

THEN YOU WILL KNOW HIM

HOSEA 2:20

“And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”

I have known a lot of people in my life. I have probably met a few thousand over 60 years. Some I have known better than others. But there have been only a handful that I have known well. Those are the ones you want to spend time with and share life’s moments.

The same is true about God. I just love this verse. God tells us here that because He betroths us in faithfulness, we will know Him. This Hebrew word for “know” has a multitude of meanings, but it can also mean an intimate knowledge. God wants to know us. Isn’t that amazing?

APPLICATION

So, for us as believers who are seeking to know the Lord, how do we do that? It takes an investment of time. You have to be willing to spend time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word. How much time are you willing to invest? An hour a day? How about a half hour? It is not necessarily the quantity of the time as much as the quality of time.

But you have to turn off the distractions. No cell phone. No FaceBook or Instagram. You need to be diligent and dedicated. The payoff is huge. The more intense your time with the Lord becomes, the more you look forward to it. You will find yourself absolutely craving these times. Go for it.

Knowing the Lord is a sweet thing. It’s really a shame that so many Christians go their whole lifetime not really knowing Him. Why would not want to know the God who created you and gave His Son to die for you? Why would you not want to spend as much time as you could with Him? I pray today you will spend some time getting to know Him better.

Thanks for giving me the desire, Lord, to know You deeper. I want to know You more and more.

Standard