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.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Protection, Scripture, Storms, Trials

YOU’RE IT

JONAH 1:7

“And each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let’s cast lots so that we may find out on whose account this catastrophe has struck us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.”

I used to hate when we picked teams in elementary school at recess to play a game. Depending on the game, I would get picked early or late. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I was one biggest. So, if it was a speed game, I was usually picked near the end. I usually felt unlucky and undervalued.

Jonah was picked by lot. The soldiers knew something about this storm they were in was divine. They could read storms, and this one didn’t fit their knowledge. So, they turned to casting lots to choose who was at fault, who had offended their god. They still didn’t understand who this God was who was trying to get Jonah’s attention. God even guided the lots, and they fell on Jonah.

APPLICATION

The Lord may have chosen you to go through a trial right now. He has tapped you on the shoulder and said you’re going in. It’s your turn. You’re it. That doesn’t make God a cruel God. It makes Him a specific God. He doesn’t haphazardly call us into these tough situations.

I just got an email from a friend of mine who serves in another country. His young son was hit by a motorcycle while walking home from school. He had a compound fracture to his femur and many cuts and contusions. Why? Why would God allow this? For some reason, God tapped them on the shoulder and chose them for this trial, knowing that going through it with Him would make them more like His son. (Pray for their son Ian).

Every trial we go through will shape us and mold us into His image. God is not trying to maim us or destroy us. That’s the devil’s game. God allows trials to touch us only to draw us closer. Do you trust a God like that? I do. I’ve been there. I’ve seen how He works. Watch Him work in yours.

Lord, thanks for picking me to show others how You work. I many not like the process, but I do like the end result.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Courage, Fear, God's Will, Hiding, Peace, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Storms

CRYING TO THE WRONG GOD

JONAH 1:5

“Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they hurled the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the stern of the ship, had lain down, and fallen sound asleep.”

So many times, we get in a mess and try to figure it out all on our own. Or we enlist the help of others who make things worse. I remember one time I was trying fix something on one of our cars. I struggled for hours to put this part on, but it just would not go on for me. I asked my neighbor for help the next morning. You know what happened? It went on for him on the first try. He had the expertise I didn’t.

These sailors are crying out their gods for help. The problem with that is those gods did not exist. They had no power to calm the storm. This was a God storm. This was one created by Him. Only He could calm it and only when it was time. It wasn’t time yet.

APPLICATION

Who are you crying out to right now? If it is anything or anyone but God, you are wasting your breathe. Why do you think you can’t find the answers anywhere else? Is it pride? Or just plain stubbornness? I know you probably think I am being a bit harsh. I guess I am. I don’t want to offend you, but I do want to move you to the right place.

Jonah was sleeping during this storm not because he was at peace. He was simply ignoring it. He was hiding from God in the stern of the ship, oblivious to what He was doing to get his attention. We do the same thing. We withdraw and hide, pretending the problem will just go away. It won’t.

Thanks be to God that He does not quit. He does not let up. If that storm had calmed down at the cries of those sailors to their gods, they would have thought their gods did it. God was teaching those sailors a lesson as much as He was Jonah. Are you learning anything in your storm?

I hate the storms, Lord, but I do love the peace that comes afterwards. I will trust You through the storm.

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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.

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Battles, Bible, Destruction, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Leading, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

ROUGH RIDE

AMOS 6:12

“Do horses run on rocks? Or does one plow them with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,”

I’m a member of a hunting lease here in Tennessee. I love going out there to hunt. One section of the lease, which I love to hunt, has become almost inaccessible due to the condition of the road. This road is full of rocks and ruts. Without a four-wheeler or a four-wheel drive truck, you are out of luck.

Amos uses the imagery of horses running on rocks in verse 12. I’m not a horse expert, but even I know that is destructive and harmful to the horse. It will end with broken legs which could lead to death. Get the picture. The Israelites had turned justice and the fruit of righteousness into something destructive and perhaps deadly.

APPLICATION

What have you turned around? We tend to want to see things our own way. We justify our sins. We make excuses for our behavior. We blame it on genetics today. The perversions of the flesh are explained away. That’s the same as riding horseback on rocks.

Why don’t we all simply go the Word and let it guide us? If we would do that, our life would go so much smoother. I am not saying we wouldn’t face challenges. We would. But we would know how to face them and get through them.

I am thankful the Lord has led me to filter all my decisions through His Word. It has a way of directing me. That filter is never going to lead me in a direction that is harmful to me. It will always point me to Jesus, which is exactly where I want to be. So, stop riding on rocks!

Father, Your road may not be free of obstacles, but I know I can trust You to guide me. I do not fear the journey, as long as I am with You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Contentment, Discipline, Following, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

TRUSTWORTHY

AMOS 6:1

“Woe to those who are carefree in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the dignitaries of the foremost of nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.”

Some things can’t be trusted. Believe me! Once while hiking, I came across this wooden bridge that crossed a creek. It had obviously been hand built and was old. I wanted to cross that creek but wasn’t sure about the strength of this old bridge. I was by myself, so I chose to find another place to cross. That old, rickety bridge just didn’t look trustworthy.

Israel was acting carefree and at ease in Zion. They were trusting in the wrong things. They thought Samaria couldn’t be taken. It was the last city to fall to the invaders, but it too fell under God’s judgment. The only thing that is totally trustworthy is God. Everything else is subject to failing. You would think Israel knew that.

APPLICATION

Oh my! This certainly applies to us, doesn’t it? We tend to trust everything else but God. We trust the government. We trust family. We trust our educators. We trust… You get the picture. We want to trust everything else until everything has failed us. Then, as a last resort, we turn to God.

When will WE learn? God should always be our first thought. He is always there. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is the trustworthy one. There is not a problem He can’t solve. He has the answers to each and every trial we face. But we have to trust Him.

That trust begins at salvation. When we place our trust in Him to save our souls, it should continue for our lifetime. Think about it. If we trust Him for eternity, why can’t we trust Him for our daily needs and struggles? Let Him have them today. Place your total trust on Him. He never fails.

Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love. I know You are always there to catch me when I fall.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Seeking

WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

AMOS 5:14

“Seek good and not evil, so that you may live; and so may the LORD God of armies be with you, just as you have said!”

Hide and seek is a wonderful childhood game. My almost four-year-old granddaughter loves to play it when she is over at our house. She loves for me to scare her when she finds me. She will scream and then burst out laughing. For her, seeking Poppy is a good thing. I hope she always feels that way.

Oh, but Amos is talking about a whole different kind of seeking. He tells us plainly to seek good and not evil. Carl, I don’t seek evil. It just kind of finds me. And it will, time and time again unless you are busy seeking good. Good is only found in Jesus. We are told to seek first His kingdom. That’s the key.

APPLICATION

So, what are you seeking? What do you spend the majority of your time trying to achieve? I spent decades in my ministry trying to achieve things, some good and some not so good. I wouldn’t call any of them evil, but when you are not seeking the best the Lord has for you, can it be considered good?

The LORD God of armies wants you to seek the best. And He gives us all we need to do that. We have His Word to point the way. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us each day in our decisions. He has given us direct access to the throne room of heaven to petition Him when we are confused. What else do we need?

I choose to seek good and not evil. I flee from evil. And the more I seek good, the easier it is for me to recognize evil. That makes it so simple. Seek good and not evil is not a complicated command. Let’s do that today.

LORD God of armies, I praise Your name that You have given me everything I need to seek good and not evil. Keep me safe as I follow You.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Self-control

GARDENS

AMOS 4:9

“‘I struck you with scorching wind and mildew; the caterpillar was devouring your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I used to garden a lot. I loved gardening. It was such a tension release back in those days. I particularly loved raised bed gardening. But with any garden you have to battle the pests, those bugs that want to eat your produce before you do. It’s a depressing thing to walk out to pick fresh vegetables and find them riddled with bug holes.

So, I can relate to the caterpillars devouring the Israelites’ gardens and vineyards. Neither winds, mildew, nor caterpillars drove them home.

APPLICATION

What kind of garden are you growing right now? Carl, I’m not gardening at all! Oh, I beg to differ. You are planting seed every day. Some seed sprout and produce beautiful things like joy, love, gentleness or self-control. Other seed spring up in anger, bitterness or unforgiveness.

It’s been said that many people want to sow their wild oats and then pray for a crop failure. That’s not how it goes. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8). What kind of crop do you want to produce? Do you want a pest free crop? Then you must trust the Lord. Let Him help you in your garden.

I wish I had space again for a garden. There is something special about planting, watering and watching something grow. I miss that. But I can concentrate on my own spiritual garden more. It sure needs tending every day. How about yours?

Lord, I am thankful for the bounty you allow me to have in my spiritual garden.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Deceit, Devil, Fighting, Oppression, Protection, Satan, Scripture

OPPRESSERS

AMOS 4:1

“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, who exploit the poor, who oppress the needy, and say to their husbands, ‘Bring now, that we may drink!’”

Some people just like to put others down. They make themselves feel better by making others feel bad. I don’t understand that kind of thinking. Shouldn’t it be just the opposite? Shouldn’t we feel better about ourselves when we help others feel better about themselves?

In this verse today Amos turns his attention to those who oppress the poor and needy. He calls to them to make sure they are listening. I love what he calls them – cows of Bashan. That is not exactly a flattering term, is it? How would you like to be called that?

There is one out there who is the master of oppression – Satan. He will send his demons to oppress us and try to keep us down. He loves to see God’s children oppressed. He loves to see us out of the fight. While he nor his demons can possess us, he can sure oppress us.

APPLICATION

Recently, I was in Kenya with a friend. We had just visited a location the previous day and seen the Lord do a work in the lives of some people. The next morning this friend mentioned he had felt an oppression on him that night and couldn’t understand why. I reminded him of Satan’s desire to do that very thing, especially after we had seen such a victory the day before.

I don’t want to scare you today talking about this, but it’s real. We are in a spiritual battle every day. Satan is real. You cannot just pretend he is not out there, and he will go away. And he will use everything in his arsenal to try to tear us down. Don’t let him. Stand strong. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

I am so thankful that I have all power needed to defeat Satan or his demons, as long as I rely on Your power and not my own.

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