Affliction, Blessing, Exalting, Praise, Thanksgiving

VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

JONAH 2:9

“‘But I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’”

I love Thanksgiving. This U.S. holiday in November each year celebrates the Pilgrims’ settlement in the New World. They lifted their voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for sustaining them during their first year. It was a tough year, with many lost lives and food shortages. Coming out of that season, they were indeed grateful.

Jonah (still in the belly of the fish) gives thanksgiving to the Lord. He recognized his “salvation is from the LORD.” He did not know, at this time, whether he would escape his fish prison or not. Regardless, he was giving praise. And God heard it.

APPLICATION

What are you thankful for today? Family? Health? I thank God every day for six things. I thank Him for family, friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. I don’t just say those flippantly. I truly am thankful for each of those.

When you have a grateful heart, I believe you are more at peace with the world. You see things differently. You get a more spiritual vision of things. Thankfulness is expressed in our worship of our Lord, and that can be done anywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are in church on Sunday.

I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me and my family. But I am also thankful for the trials God has allowed us to go through. I may not be in the belly of a fish, but I have probably felt just as low as Jonah. Through those times, just like Jonah, God drew me to Himself.

Thank You, Lord, for holding me close, even when I am pushing You away.

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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.

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Belief, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Fear, Power, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

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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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Devout, Following, Glory, Praise, Reputation, Scripture

WORSHIPPER OF GOD

OBADIAH 1

“The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Lord GOD says concerning Edom—’We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise, and let’s go up against her for battle.”’”

I have been in a good many cemeteries in my life. I don’t visit them for pleasure, but rather to pay respect to a friend or loved one. While I am there, I like to read headstones. Some of them tell a story of the one who is buried below. Wouldn’t today’s title be a great epitaph?

As we begin the book of Obadiah today, it is good to know that his name means “servant of Yah.” It could be translated also as “worshipper of God.” We don’t know exactly who this person was, but that doesn’t really matter. His name tells us all we need to know. He loved God. All his tombstone needed to say was Obadiah. Enough said.

APPLICATION

I pray you are known as a worshipper of God, as a servant of God. There is no other better reputation. But many people don’t want to be known as that because it would interfere with how they wanted to live. If you are known as God’s servant, you can’t live like a heathen.

Obadiah gives a prophecy about Edom, describing their demise. So, how does this relate to us? We can learn a lot from these verses as he describes why and how God judged them. Obadiah is a short book, only twenty-one verses. Let me encourage you to read the whole book today. Then we will see what it has for us tomorrow.

But for now, concentrate on being a servant of Yah, a worshipper of God, a Christ follower. If you do that, you will have made your Father in Glory proud. He will be pleased at your worship of Him, who is the only one worthy of worship. Worship the King.

I praise You, O God of the Ages. I worship You above all.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Death, Judgment, Perseverance, Praise

ONLY TEN?

AMOS 6:9

“And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.”

When I read this verse, I immediately thought back to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you remember that story? The angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him He was about to destroy those cities because of their wickedness. Abraham finally asks him would He destroy them if just ten righteous men were found there. I just wonder if Amos is thinking of this same story.

But here in verse 9 of Amos 6, Amos turns it around and says God is going to destroy them no matter the number. Ten men may be all that’s left in a house, but they will die. God’s mercy has come to an end right here. All the wicked and disobedient must come before the Lord and face their judgment.

APPLICATION

Don’t be in that ten! Don’t push God’s mercy. He will, at some point, make you accountable for your sins. I bet those ten never thought they face death or exile. But here it is. We too must face it. Don’t let it get to this point. Repent!

We may think we are getting away with sin. We haven’t been caught in the act. We are sneaky. But sin has a way of manifesting itself. Before you know it, we incorporate that sinful pattern into our lives. We may hide it for a lifetime, but it will be exposed.

I come before the Lord each morning and confess my sins. Notice I said sins and not sin. I pray for forgiveness and ask for direction. It should come as no surprise that I do that. I am in this world, just like you. I pray that all my sin(s) are unintentional. But sin is sin. It all needs to be repented. 

Lord God, forgive me when I have fallen. Pick me up and give me a new heart.

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Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Idols, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

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Bible, Encouragement, Honor, Praise, Scripture, Worship, Worthy

SILENCE

AMOS 5:23

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.”

Sometimes you just want silence. Can I get a witness? Amen! The noise of the world gets overwhelming. You want some peace and solitude. That is especially true if the noise is something you don’t want to hear, like really, bad country music. Lol.

God had had enough of their singing and music in their make-believe worship. They were still going through the motions of worship with all the noise it entailed. But God would have none of it. He recognized it for what it was – noise. He won’t listen to our empty efforts either.

APPLICATION

So, how do you know if your worship is genuine? Don’t you want to know that? I do. I don’t want to pretend to worship. I want to truly worship my Lord and Savior. I want to give Him all the honor and praise He is due. I don’t want to go through the motions.

Do you want to know what I’ve learned about worship? It comes from the heart. It has nothing to do with our emotions or our intellect. We can plan and plan every worship service. We can have the best praise band or choir around. None of that matters unless our hearts are right.

That’s why we have to start our worship long before we get to church. We have to get our hearts right, confessed clean and ready to receive from Him. When we have done that, worship overflows. Worship is a direct result of heart preparation. So, get your heart right! Then come to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Worship will follow.

I worship You, Lord. I praise Your holy name. You alone are worthy of my praise.

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Belief, Bible, Confidence, Devil, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Holiness, Judgment, Praise, Rapture

HOOKS

AMOS 4:2

“The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘For behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.’”

I love to fish. I don’t get to do it as often as I like, but I love it. If you have ever gone fishing, you know you need hooks to catch the fish. Those hooks can be on an artificial bait or used with live bait. But you have to have hooks. And when you catch a fish, you jerk it and bring it to the boat or shore. It’s kind of a violent act, if you think about it.

In the same way, Israel was going to be snatched away. The imagery of the meat hook and the fish hook was one every Israelite could relate to. Because of their rebuke of God’s holiness, their judgment had arrived, and they would be snatched away by other nations – violently and aggressively snatched away.

APPLICATION

We face the same, if we are not children of God. At death, we will be snatched away by the evil one to an eternity of torment. But praise be to God, as children of God, we are protected. We will be snatched away, but into the loving arms of our Lord. If we are alive when He returns, God’s Word says we will be snatched away to meet Him in the air.

Unlike the snatching away that happened to the Israelites, our snatching away won’t involve sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are painful. I know from experience. I’ve had more than one hook stuck in my finger or hand. Our snatching away won’t be painful. It will be peaceful and gentle.

I am so ready to be snatched away. I look forward to our Lord’s return. But my heart aches for those who don’t have this confidence in our Lord. Their snatching will be painful. Will you join me in trying to reach as many as we can for Christ before His return? Let’s help them avoid those hooks.

Thank You Jesus for the promise of Your return and the snatching away I will experience in You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, God's Will, Inheritance, Praise, Scripture

RESTORED FORTUNES

JOEL 3:1

“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”

We have probably all heard stories of people who got fortunes restored to them after years of waiting. Perhaps they weren’t even aware of the fortunes out there until they appeared. There’s actually a website you can go to for each state in the U.S. to search and see if you have money coming to you that you forgot about from a closed bank account or an old deposit. Getting those fortunes are exciting.

Can you imagine how excited Judah and Jerusalem were to hear these words? They had been overrun by their enemies. They had lost all they had. And now, to hear from Joel that the Lord was going to restore it – wow! I bet they were giddy. I bet they were so thankful. It’s amazing what the Lord can do for us when we are surrendered.

APPLICATION

You may not have millions of dollars coming to you, but the Lord is still in the restoring business. When we have crashed and burned our lives, the Lord can take that and restore it. Better yet, He makes it so much better than it used to be. But we have to surrender that life to Him. The Lord can’t restore what not is in His hands.

Are you struggling today? Is your life upside down? Perhaps you think there is no way out. I’ve got great news for you. There is a way out. God can take your crumpled life and make it new. He can give you a purpose for living. He can give you the promise of eternal life with Him. Will you surrender today? Maybe you are a believer, and you’ve just gotten sidetracked. Come back to Him. He can restore you as well.

When I came to Christ, I was headed down the wrong road fast. I don’t need to go into all that I was doing. Let’s just say it did not please the Lord. But when I came to that point of surrender on July 31, 1977, my life changed completely. I reversed directions. He restored me to a new life in Christ. I had a purpose for living. I am so grateful for His restoration in my life.

O God, You are the Great Restorer. You have given me a new life in Christ to live to glorify You. Thank You!

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Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Restoration

PRAISE HIS NAME

JOEL 2:26

“‘You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.’”

Why do you issue praise on anyone? I have had the privilege to be a boss for a lot of great employees. I discovered the more I praised them for their fine work, the more they wanted to do fine work. Praising them also caused me to look at my own work. How well was I leading them? Am I an example they want to follow? Praising others is something you have to learn to do and practice often, or you lose it.

The Lord is speaking here in verse 26, and He tells us that because of His blessings on the Judeans, they will praise His name. Well, of course they would. Why wouldn’t they? He had restored them from a terrible judgment of locusts. He had restored them from hunger and thirst. They were looking upward. They were acknowledging their God.

APPLICATION

What drives you to praise your God? Does it take restoration to do that? So many of us wait until we are in a mess to cry out to God. We only praise Him when He delivers us. Why not praise Him all the time? After all, the deliverance He has already made in your life from an eternal damnation is reason enough to praise Him. Isn’t it?

Take some time today to praise Him. You can do that with song. I love to do that. Sing a hymn or a praise song to your God. You may want to spend some extended time in prayer or studying the Word. But make sure you praise Him for all He has done, is doing and will do in your life. Our God is amazing and deserves our praise.

Recently, I found a cd of some songs that our choir used to sing. When I popped them in my cd player in my truck and began to listen, tears streamed down my face. I could picture myself and the choir singing these incredible anthems in praise to our Lord. As I sang along, the praise just lifted to the heavens. Praise Him today. Give Him all the praise.

I praise You, O Lord, for all You have done and will do in my life. You are an amazing God and I love you.

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