Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Bitterness, Deceit, Forgiveness, God's Will, Mercy, Scripture

RATIONALIZATION

JONAH 4:2

“Then he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore, in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.’”

Rationalization! Do you know what that means? It is “the action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.” People do it all the time. I have seen people rationalize drunk driving (well, I had to get home where I would be safe). People use it to justify their anger (If he/she wouldn’t act that way, I wouldn’t get mad).

Jonah is rationalizing his anger. He thinks he is justified in his anger. He is basically saying, “God, I told you so. I knew You would be merciful.” Jonah wanted these people gone. Remember, they were the enemy of Israel. They were hated by Israelites. Jonah felt his anger was justified because of what they had done to his nation.

APPLICATION

Be careful what you rationalize. Be careful of the behaviors or attitudes that you think are okay. The world today allows just about anything. In some states in the U.S., criminals are arrested and let go with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. They rationalize their behaviors because of the lax justice system. “If they don’t care what I do, why should I?”

Rationalization can be very dangerous. We only have one true way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Do you know what that is? It is God’s Word. I am currently in a country where only a few decades ago, communism reigned. That government justified all its actions on their belief that it was “best” for the people. Ask those who lived through if they think that was best. Not hardly.

I will trust the Lord to show me how to rationalize the things around me. I will follow His lead. If the Lord says it’s right, it’s right. Jonah could have stopped and just asked the Lord why He decided to forgive the Ninevites. God would have probably gladly told him. Don’t be a Jonah. Don’t rationalize your behaviors. Go to the Lord.

Forgive me, Lord, when I try to justify my attitude or behaviors. If I line up my life with Your Word, I know I will be just fine.

Standard
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.

Standard
Affection, Alone, Asking, Bible, Confession, Despair, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Mercy, Prayer, Rescue, Scripture

THE PITS

JONAH 2:6

“I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.

You may have heard the expression, “this is the pits.” But where does that come from? Well, I looked that up. It can refer to armpits which implies body odor, something that is undesirable. It also can refer to someone who is in the depths of despair. That is what I think of when I hear this. Well…Jonah was in the pits.

Remember where he is when he says what we read in today’s verse – the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea. It’s hard to get much lower than that. He was low. He was in despair. Look what he says, though. He says, “You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.” Wait just a minute. He’s still in that fish. But now he realizes no matter the circumstance, God can lift you up from the depths of despair.

APPLICATION

If you are like most people, you have found yourself in “the pits” at some time. How did you manage that? How do you get out of “the pit”? So many of us turn to counselors or doctors for help. They can be very helpful. But so many of us don’t look at the spiritual side of our despair. We are spiritual creatures, as well as physical.

I want to encourage you the next time you find yourself in “that pit” to turn to Jesus. Ask Him why you are feeling the way you are. Ask Him what He would have you do to get out of that low place. He may reveal some hidden sin in your life that needs confessing. He may point you to someone who has gone through what you are going through at the time.

I have had the privilege to share my journey through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to others who are going through the same thing. Let me tell you – chemo will bring you down into a pit. You need others to encourage you during that time. What have you gone through and what lessons have you learned that you can share with someone today? Do that.

Being in “the pits” is no fun, Father. I thank You that You have lifted me up each time I have called on You.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE READING MY BLOG!!

Standard
Advocate, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Grace, Mercy, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

WAVES

JONAH 2:3

“‘For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current flowed around me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.’”

My mom loved the beach. In fact, she convinced my dad, who was no fan of beach life, to buy a small place on the Gulf of Mexico. My mom loved to “jump the waves.” She would not get her hair wet or go in too deep. But she loved to walk in the water and feel the waves break against her body.

Jonah felt the waves and breakers as they passed over him. He seems to quote from Psalm 42:7. “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” There is no escape. Only God’s mercy is sparing his life. Jonah is calling on God as he recognizes His power over him.

APPLICATION

Have you tried to “jump the waves” lately? You may get lucky to begin with, but eventually you tire and the waves get you. You cannot keep up with the current that is pushing against you. You need a rescuer, someone who is strong and powerful. You cannot rescue yourself.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate lifeguard. He is always looking out for our safety. He flies the red flags when He knows there is danger around you. He flies the green flags when it is safe to swim. He has the ability to plunge into the oceans of despair that may entangle you and set you free.

I have known a lot of people who worked as lifeguards. They all had to know how to rescue someone if they were drowning. That might have involved using a hook to pull someone to the side of a pool or throwing a life saving device to someone in the lake or ocean. Jesus has all the tools necessary to rescue us. Has He rescued you?

Father, I am so thankful Jesus tossed me a ring of safety. I am now safe in His arms.

Standard
Bible, Boasting, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Enemies, Envy, Loyalty, Mercy, Protection, Rejoicing, Relationships, Scripture

NO GLOATING

OBADIAH 12

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast on the day of their distress.”

I haven’t mentioned that my alma mater, the University of Georgia, won the National Collegiate Football Championship. The only thing better than that is seeing my school’s archrival, the University of Florida, lose. Lol. When they lose and my team wins, I can gloat just a bit. Sorry Gator fans.

God warned Edom to stop their gloating over Judah’s demise. They were actually celebrating the fact that Judah was being defeated by their enemies. They didn’t come to their defense. They were cheering on the nations who were carrying their brothers into exile. That’s kind of messed up.

APPLICATION

Whose demise are you rejoicing over? We still do this today. We watch people we don’t like have troubles, and we inwardly rejoice. What?! Yes! Even believers do this. That’s right. Believers rejoice when others suffer. You don’t believe me? Just listen to the conversations around you.

We have to stop doing that. We have no right to watch someone else suffer, friend or foe, and rejoice. Don’t get me wrong. I believe enemies of the cross should be confronted. If they don’t repent, they will suffer. But I don’t believe the Lord wants to see that. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t want to see anyone face judgment without Him.

I am so grateful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am filled with His Spirit, so I should see everyone as He does – a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you join me in clarifying our view of others – all others? Let’s link arms and lift up those who have fallen – not look on and gloat.

O Father, forgive me when I have that inner twinge of self-righteousness brought on when I see someone suffer.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Calling, Confidence, Encouragement, God's Will, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Redemption, Remnant

A REMNANT

OBADIAH 5

“If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—Oh how you will be ruined!—Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape-pickers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings??

My Uncle Hugh Lee was a produce farmer. He grew large fields of tomatoes and cabbages for the market. Every year, at the end of the season, he let us come out and get all we wanted that was left in the fields. My mom canned the tomatoes for winter and cooked up a big mess of cabbage.

Obadiah is using an analogy of common, everyday life to not only let them know what was coming (judgment), but that there would also be a remnant left to return. God was not done with them yet. He still had plans for His chosen nation. They, however, had to deal with the judgment to come.

APPLICATION

You may be going through a hard time right now. You may feel like the Lord has forgotten you and left you to wander. That is not our God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He must discipline us at times, but He will not leave us there. You can trust that truth.

Where are you right now? Do you need assurance? We all do. That’s normal. But if you are in a pit of despair right now, thinking that God has forgotten you, stop. He knows exactly where you are. Call out to Him today. He hears, even from the deepest pit.

I honestly don’t know what I would do if didn’t have the knowledge that God loves me. I don’t understand why He does, but He does. I certainly don’t deserve it. But He has called me His own. If you are in Christ, so are you. So, today, live like it.

From the deepest valley, you hear my voice when I cry to You, O Lord. I know You are there and ready to rescue Your remnant.

Standard
Abuse, Advocate, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Judgment, Mercy, Passion, Rescue

OUR PROTECTOR

AMOS 8:7

“The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.’”

Growing up in my home in Southwest Georgia, I never doubted for a second that my dad had my back. I mean, he was my protector. My dad wasn’t the biggest man in town or the toughest. But my dad loved his family and would stop at nothing to protect it if necessary.

The Lord swears by Himself (the pride of Jacob) that He will protect the poor and needy. The previous few verses told of the injustices that were on these people. God says here that He would never forget what those people had done to them. He came to their defense.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you something. Who are you protecting? Do you look out for those less fortunate than you? Do you try to help those who come to you? Jesus tells us in Luke 6:30a, “Give to everyone who begs from you…” Have you done that lately? I have to confess that I haven’t.

God is always picking up the downtrodden. He lifts up the fallen. His heart is bent towards those who are struggling. So, He calls on us to be His hands and feet. He may call on you to deliver some much needed food to a widow. Or He may ask you to help a single mom with some childcare needs.

Just be willing to do whatever He asks you to do. Don’t be like the Israelites who looked over or took advantage of the ones who were hurting in their midst. I bet you those are the first ones Jesus would go to if He were here. Don’t you?

Forgive me, Lord, for looking over those in need. Help me see their need and do whatever I can to help.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Mercy, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture

RETURN TO ME

JOEL 2:12

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning;’”

I love to return to places that I have visited in the past, if I enjoyed them the first time. For instance, I am planning to return to Kenya this year. I love my brothers and sisters there. Due to my illness in 2019-20, I have not been there since 2018. My heart literally aches to be there. Would you pray with me that Kenya remains open to travel and our team can make the trip?

I love today’s verse. When the Lord says here for us to return, that implies we have been there before. I look up the Hebrew word for “return.” It literally means to turn back or return. And the verb tense implies some kind of force is involved. He is asking us to forcibly return to Him. Don’t be slow about it. And He says to return with fasting, weeping and mourning. We come back recognizing our sins and asking for forgiveness.

APPLICATION

Fasting, weeping and mourning aren’t things we enjoy doing. It implies brokenness. Are you? Are you broken over your sins? Most of us can strut sitting down. We are too proud to repent. We are too full of ourselves to fast and weep and mourn. But God asks us to come to Him that way.

Let me urge you today to do that. If you are unsure of your sins (I can’t imagine someone not knowing their sins), ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will, I promise. He has seen your sins. His forgiveness and mercy if ready. Just ask. Our unconfessed sins just serve to separate us from fellowship with our Master. Remove that barrier through confession and repentance.

I am thankful the Lord stands ready to forgive. I know I sin daily through word and/or deed. I long to live a life of godliness free from sin and its influence. Until then, I will come to my Savior and seek cleansing. I will cleanse my hands and purify my heart. I will seek to know Him better through His word.  Return to Him! Are you ready?

Thank You, Father, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole.

Standard
Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Mercy, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Waiting

WAITING ON GOD

HOSEA 12:6

“So as for you, return to your God, maintain kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.”

Don’t you hate to wait? I sure do. I am bad about going to a fast food place (don’t judge, lol) and driving straight through if there are more than two or three cars in line. I used to hate to wait at red lights, but I’ve learned to work on my memory verses while doing that. So, reading this verse bothered me a little. I don’t want to wait continually.

Hosea tells them to do three things – return, maintain and wait. Look at the order. They had to return to God first. They couldn’t do the second and third things unless that happened first. And once they did, he told them to maintain kindness (mercy) and justice. Then the waiting starts. God required them to preserve mercy and justice until He responded.

APPLICATION

What are you waiting on? Have you prayed this lately? “Dear God, I am so tired of waiting on You. Why won’t you answer my prayers?” We’ve all prayed that at one time or another. Waiting is hard. We feel like we are wasting time. We have so much to do and waiting on God just doesn’t fit our schedule.

Well, let me ask you this. Have you returned to God? Are you maintaining kindness and justice? If you do those things, you will be able to wait. How? You will be so busy preserving kindness and justice, you will totally forget about the waiting. And the more you do that, the closer you will grow towards God.

We have to remember this. God is always on time. If we remember this, then we should know that waiting is His plan for us. He will do what He is going to at just the right time. Waiting is good if we understand His plan is to make us more like Him. Isn’t that something you want? I sure do.

Waiting on You, Lord, is alright by me. I trust Your timing.

Standard