Accountability, Accused, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Direction, God's Will, Obedience, Safety, Scripture

SPLISH, SPLASH

JONAH 1:15

“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”

Have you ever thrown someone into a pool? You know how kids can play. I can remember picking up someone and chunking them, kicking and screaming. It was all in play. No one was intended to be hurt. We laughed and usually did it again.

This was not the case with Jonah. He did not kick and scream. In fact, he probably laid down on the deck of the ship very calmly as the sailors picked him up and threw him in. Can you just see the sailors’ face when the sea stopped raging? They probably instantly went to the side of the ship and looked for Jonah. But he was not there.

APPLICATION

Maybe you’re kicking and screaming right now as God tries to throw you into the deep end of the pool. Does God do that? He certainly does. Most of us don’t go willingly. We may not kick and scream, but we sure argue with God, don’t we? We have all kinds of reasons why His won’t make sense.

I have been thrown into the “deep end” many times. You think I would have learned to go in myself. But no, I am hard-headed. I guess that is why I can relate to Jonah so well. There have been times when God gave me a clear direction, but I went the other direction.

Splash! There I went! Deep end! But I found when I got in that the water was just fine. I did not drown. In fact, I got stronger by learning to swim there. I could not rely on my own strength. I had to have His power to survive. So, I swam and got stronger. Are you still wearing floaties on your arms or are you allowing God to strengthen you in the “deep end?”

Father, Your Will often confuses me. But I know I can trust it because it’s Your Will and not mine.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Disciplemaking, Following, Perseverance, Prayer, Rescue, Safety, Scripture

WHAT DO YOU DO IN A STORM?

JONAH 1:11

“So they said to him, ‘What should we do to you so that the sea will become calm for us?’—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.”

Our family lived in Lakeland, Florida for several years and had the grand experience of several hurricanes. It’s funny how you react to those things. For the first storm, we followed all the precautions and had our little hurricane kit ready. By the time we went through our seventh or eighth, we hardly paid them any attention. But storms need to be heeded.

The sailors now know that Jonah is the cause of this storm. His God, Jehovah, has stirred up the waves and wind. So, naturally they assumed Jonah had the answer to quiet the storm. This God of Jonah’s could surely stop it as fast as He started it.

APPLICATION

God will allow storms in our lives to get our attention. How long those storms last depend on our response to Him. Have you been a storm a long time? Maybe you need to stop and look at what God is trying to teach you. Are the winds ripping at you every hour? Turn to Him and ask Him what it is He wants you to do.

There really isn’t any other way to respond to storms in our lives. Remember, everything that touches you as a child of God goes through His hands first. That storm that seems to never cease has passed through His approval. That may sound horrible, but it isn’t. Those storms are meant to drive you to your knees where you are the closest to Him.

It is so true in my life that I never feel as tall spiritually as I do when I’m on my knees. Prayer is like a fresh breath. It invigorates you and energizes you. And when I am in prayer during a storm, I feel His presence. I know He is right there with me. Join me.

I don’t like the storms, Lord, but I trust You in them. I know You have not lost sight of me even in the tallest waves.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Destruction, Devil, Grace, Horror, Rebellion, Rescue, Safety, Scripture, Storms

BREAKING UP

JONAH 1:4

“However, the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to break up.”

I lived in Florida for about eight years and witnessed the destructive power of hurricanes on several occasions. Those storms can literally destroy a city. I have seen homes obliterated. I have seen neighborhoods so damaged you could not tell where the streets were. It is horrifying.

I imagine the storm Jonah and his shipmates faced was like a hurricane. When God sends a storm, He does not mess around. I bet they had 20- and 30-foot waves. The pounding of those waves on the hull of the ship was beginning to break apart the ship. They were taking on water and getting scared.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been that scared? It seemed the waves of life were crashing in all around you. You are taking on water. You look around and there are no lifeboats to jump into. You are panicking. All hope is gone.

And then you come to the Master who can still the seas. No storm is so dark that He cannot walk right through it. No waves are too high that He cannot safely navigate. No vessel is so wrecked that He cannot put it back together better than it was before. Call out to Him!

Wow! This picture of Jonah in that ship sure is vivid. We can all relate to it. We have done the same thing. We have run from God and gotten into more trouble. When we flee in the dark, we are apt to get hurt. We, instead, need to head toward the light. Then our path is exposed. Then He will lead us safely home.

The storm-tossed waves of life are out there, Lord. But with You at the helm, there is no fear.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Devil, Fighting, Protection, Safety, Satan, Scripture

THE GOD OF ARMIES

AMOS 3:13

“‘Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,’ declares the Lord GOD, the God of armies.”

I live in the United States of America. We have one of the most, if not the most, powerful armies in the world. We train and equip our army to fight at the highest level. We have competent officers to lead that army wherever it is deployed. I’m proud of our armed forces and am thankful for their service.

However, our army is no match for God’s. I love how Amos describes the Lord God here. He is the God of armies. He has the power to control multiple armies. His armies do His bidding without question. They conquer every foe. Nothing can stand in His way.

APPLICATION

If all that is true, then why in the world do we worry if God is on our side? As children of God, we have the most powerful fighting force imaginable in our corner. Nothing can touch us, unless God allows it. Every day He protects us from the flaming arrows of the evil one, and we are not even aware.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Too many of us walk around defeated when we should be walking in victory. Read the end of the Book. We win! Satan is already a defeated foe. Why fear a foe that is already whipped. Claim the victory that is already yours.

I am thankful my Commander-in-Chief doesn’t change every election cycle. My CIC reigns eternally. He always knows just how to defeat the enemy. I can rest in His protection. Will you do that today? He wants you to experience that perfect peace.

O God, You are my defender. I will run to You for my defense.

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Hugs, Intimacy, Peace, Safety, Salvation, Scripture

TENDER HANDS

HOSEA 11:11

“They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.”

I can remember as a little boy finding baby birds that had fallen out of their nest. Some didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were so defenseless. Usually, the mama would be flitting around trying to protect her little ones. I would pick them up so tenderly and, if I could, put them back in their nest. If the nest was too high in the tree, we would try to raise them in a box.

I had this picture in my mind when I read this verse today. God tenderly picked up Israel from Egypt and Assyria and placed them in their land again. They were shaken from their exile. They were dazed and confused, but God reached down with His tender hands and picked them up and loved them.

APPLICATION

Are you dazed and confused? Have you fallen out your nest? God’s tender hands are waiting to pick you up. You need to call out to Him. He doesn’t want to see you on the ground vulnerable to attack. He wants to protect you. But our tender God will not force His love on you. He will not come in uninvited.

Oh, but when you do call out, He is right there. And when you feel His tender hands (and believe me, you can), you just relax and realize that He has you. He will never let you go. He will carry you to your home. He will place you in a place of safety created by Him just for you. Do you want to experience that today?

I know I need His tender hands in my life daily. I love the feel of His hands on my life. I love it because I trust Him. His hands will never crush me. He will not squeeze me into submission. Don’t you love that? I do. Call out to Him today and feel His touch. You won’t ever forget it.

Lord, thank You for Your tender touch. Thank You for picking me up and taking me home.

Standard
Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Punishment, Safety, Scripture

BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Deception, Fighting, Flesh, Perfection, Safety, Scripture

BENT SIGHTS

HOSEA 7:16

They turn, but not upward, they are like a loose bow; their officials will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.”

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know I love to hunt. I normally hunt with a gun, but during archery season, I hunt with a crossbow. I have spent time zeroing in that crossbow. I set up a target at different distances and practice shooting to make sure I can hit what I am shooting at when the time comes. There’s nothing much more frustrating than to have a great weapon and not have it sighted so you can shoot well.

Hosea compares Israel to such a weapon – a loose bow. A loose bow will not shoot the arrow correctly. It will miss its target. It won’t hit what you aim at because the bow is deceiving you. Not only is that frustrating, but it’s also dangerous. If you are facing an enemy, you want to be able to stop them with that bow. If you can’t shoot straight, you’re in trouble.

APPLICATION

Are you a straight shooter? Is your heart aimed toward God? If we aren’t consistent in our quiet times and our prayer lives, we will begin to get off mark. We will begin to target the wrong things. Our aim will be off. Before you know it, we are totally off course. We are pursuing the wrong things. God is no longer in our view. How did that happen?

You see, our sights can be just slightly off and cause us to miss God. It doesn’t take much. Just a little distraction can cause it. Our minds start to drift. We put off our quiet times. We neglect for a few days our time with the Lord. Whamo! We are off. We have to set our sights afresh each day. We have to make sure Satan hasn’t moved in and “tweaked” our sights to make us miss. Be sure your aim is right.

I heard about a golfer this week who had an awful putting experience in his last tournament. Before he played in his next tournament, he was complaining about it. Someone asked him about his putter. It was only then that he noticed his putter was bent. There was no way he could have putted straight with it. Check out your tools and make sure you are aiming correctly.

Father, You are the only true way to measure whether I am shooting straight or not. I depend on You to be my guide.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

Standard
Agreement, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Perseverance, Redemption, Safety, Scripture, Separation

REUNITED

HOSEA 1:11

“And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for the day of Jezreel will be great.”

Don’t you just love reunions? I have been to a lot of family reunions, both on my side of the family and on my wife’s. There’s just something about going back home to your hometown or to a family home place and seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a while. Hugs and kisses are all around. And it’s not long until the stories start being told about “the good ole days.”

In today’s verse we see a prophetic statement about the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. When they return from their exile, they will be one nation, not two. The people who return will not see themselves as separate people. They will be reunited as one nation. This is as it should be.

APPLICATION

How does this verse relate to us today? We must be united as one in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we have petty differences. We have to come together as one for the cause of Christ. The world is watching the church. They are wondering why the Baptists and Methodists can’t get along. If we all believe Jesus is God’s Son and died for our sins, why can’t we worship as one?

I know we have doctrinal issues among the denominations. Some of those are worth discussing. But many of them really are not crucial. We tend to major on the minors, don’t we? I wonder what could happen in the world if we all came together and worshipped our Lord. I believe revival would break out, don’t you?

How can you be part of this? Reach out to someone from another church. Find your common ground. We have to agree on the basics, of course. But I challenge you to come alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to reach the lost, and that can only be done if we fight together.

Reunite us, God. Bring us together as one to battle the enemy and proclaim the good news of Christ.

Standard
Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

Standard