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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Attention, Boasting, Commands, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

REVEALED

JONAH 1:9

“So he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’”

I met with a young man recently for the first time. We had only briefly met earlier at a local restaurant, so I did not know anything about him. When we met, I asked him to share his background with me. Why? So, I could get to know him a little better. I needed to understand where he had come from.

After lots were cast and Jonah had been questioned by the sailors as to who he was, Jonah finally begins to reveal himself to them. He said, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and dry land.” In other words, Jonah was saying he knew who was behind this storm. That was not welcomed news.

APPLICATION

Have you been revealed? Do others know anything about you. After my new friend shared his background with me recently, I felt like I knew him better. I understood where he was coming from. With that information, I could help direct him in the right direction, perhaps.

Revealing ourselves is difficult. It is especially dangerous when we aren’t sure how we will be affected. We open ourselves up to ridicule and shame. But we have to remember that Jesus revealed Himself even though He knew what the result would be. No one has ever revealed themselves as clearly as Christ.

I am pretty picky as to whom I reveal myself. Trust is not something I give away easily. It has to be earned. That can be earned quickly, as with this new friend I just made. Or it may take some time. But revealing myself is something I must do. That draws others to Jesus. Would you reveal yourself to someone today and share how the Lord has led you?

I am forever grateful, Lord, for You revealing Yourself to me. Help me to do the same for others.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Apologies, Bible, Consequences, Devout, Discipline, Examples, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Promises, Testimony

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

AMOS 9:8

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will eliminate it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally eliminate the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Are you a good promise keeper? We have all broken promises at some point in our lives. It may have been a small, minor promise, but it was still a promise. I try not to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

Failure was and never will be an option for our God. He had made a promise to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He promised him a land, a son and a nation. Now, as the nation of Israel was deserting Him and facing judgment, God reminds them of that promise. Jacob (also known as Israel) would be remembered and not totally destroyed.

APPLICATION

Let me encourage you today to keep your promises. Maybe you only promised your child an ice cream cone. Go get it. Maybe you promised your spouse a weekend away. Go! Maybe your promise is more serious like your wedding vows. Those must be kept.

Whatever promise you made, keep it. A vow made should be a vow kept. After all, as a believer, you are representing your Savior. How you keep promises reflects on Him. I think if we understood that fully, there would be fewer promises broken.

Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? One of my newest, favorite verses is found in Joshua. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” You can take God’s promises to the bank. They are for sure.

Lord God, I am so thankful Your promises are true and faithful. I rest knowing I can count on You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Prophesy, Scripture, Testimony

ONLY WHAT HE SAYS

AMOS 7:16

“So now hear the word of the LORD: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you prophesy against the house of Isaac.’”

Some people don’t want to hear the truth, no matter what it is. Hearing bad news is hard. Even though it may be the truth, we don’t want to hear it. Sometimes the truth points out our errors. No one likes that. We all want to be right and speak our minds, right?

Amaziah didn’t want to hear anymore of Amos’ prophesies against Israel. So, Amos says in a mocking way to Amaziah what he has been saying to him. Amaziah want Amos to stop his preaching and go back home.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us? Well, perhaps the Lord has given you a message that you need to deliver. It doesn’t matter what kind of response you get from others. You have to be true to the message you’ve been given. You may get a very cold reception because of your message. Give it any way.

Amos was basically being told to shut up and go away. Have you ever been told that? I remember once in Uganda, I was with a group doing street evangelism in an area known for their resistance to the Gospel. We had some drunks tell us to leave and stop talking to their neighbors. We continued our witnessing and actually got a couple of those antagonizers to listen to us.

Never stop speaking what the Lord has given you. We have all been given the Gospel and should be sharing it. I know it is uncomfortable at times. That doesn’t matter. Do it any way. You may get made fun of. That’s okay. Our obedience to Christ and the message He has given us is all that matters.

Father, thank You for the message You have given me to share to the world. Make me bold and courageous.

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Belief, Bible, Calling, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Gospel, Modeling, Prophesy, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

DON’T DO THAT HERE

AMOS 7:13

“But do not prophesy at Bethel any longer, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”

Some people can get on your last nerve. Am I right? They have a way of annoying you and don’t even realize it. Some of the things they do aren’t bad. They are just irritating. For instance, someone who hums a lot can push you to your limit. The humming isn’t bad. It just never stops. You want to tell them to go hum someplace else.

Amaziah continues speaking to Amos in verse 13. That’s basically what he says. He tells Amos if he is gong to prophesy, do it someplace else. The king can’t be bothered. What Amos was saying might upset the king, and Amaziah didn’t want to see that. Hmmm, I wonder why.

APPLICATION

We should be so annoying. Let me explain. I don’t really want us to annoy people, but I do want us to continue to talk about Jesus. I want people to see me coming and know they are going to hear something about Jesus. I pray I say it in a way that encourages them and does not drive them away.

Being consistent in our witness is challenging. My circle of influence seems to be around “church folks.” I don’t get much exposure to non-believers. I have to purposely seek out that group. But that is something I need to be more consistent in doing.

My prayer for us today is that we all get busy. I pray we all can be as “annoying” as Amos was to Amaziah. I pray everything we say is true and points to Jesus. I pray the Lord leads people into our lives who need to hear this message of forgiveness and grace. Amen?

Lord, help us reach others with Your Word. Put those in our path today who need this lifegiving word from You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Offering, Scripture, Testimony

THE OFFERING PLATE

AMOS 5:25

“Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, house of Israel?”

I realized when I titled this blog today that the offering plate has been seldom used during these days of covid. My church has replaced it with an increased online giving option, as well as a box on the wall in which to drop your offering. All of this is meant, of course, to reduce infections. However, that offering plate going down the aisle each week is a reminder of our responsibility to give.

That wasn’t the problem with the Israelites, or so it seemed. They offered sacrifices and offerings during the years in the wilderness and continued that practice after arriving in the Promised Land. We have hundreds of verses in the Old Testament which describes that. It wasn’t the offering itself. It was the manner in which it was offered that caused God to reject it.

APPLICATION

This has been a theme of Amos’ for several verses in chapter 5. But it bears repeating each time he brings it up in a verse. That’s why I love this verse-by-verse dissection of the text. You get to see those repeated topics and themes so clearly. God does not want your offerings given out of habit or guilt. He wants your heart.

My brother-in-law used to preach the Christ life so clearly. He seldom preached on giving because he believed that if someone was walking with Christ daily, they would want to give, not just to the church but to other efforts as well. I found that to be true in my own life.

So, I am going to ask you a question I have asked you before (if you are a follower of my blog). Why do you give? What is your heart motive? I pray it is simply out of love for our Savior. His sacrifice motivates you to give. Examine your heart today. The next time you write that check or give online to the church or to another mission, pray for God to take your offering and multiply it for His glory.

Lord, I give because I love You. Please take my offerings and use them to further Your kingdom around the world.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Deception, Disciplemaking, Double-minded, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DUDLEY DO-RIGHT

AMOS 3:10

“‘But they do not know how to do what is right,’ declares the LORD, ‘these who store up violence and devastation in their citadels.’”

According to Wikipedia “Dudley Do-Right is a dim-witted, but conscientious and cheerful Canadian Mountie who is always trying to catch his nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, and rescue damsel in distress Nell Fenwick, the daughter of his boss Inspector Fenwick, with whom Dudley is deeply infatuated.” I used to watch this cartoon character in the 1960’s. He did right, but it was almost always an accident.

The Lord declares to Israel that they do not know how to do right. Their lifestyles are filled with violence and devastation. How could you not know how to do right? Because they had deserted their Lord and filled their lives with fleshly pursuits. That’s how!

APPLICATION

Do you know how to do right? The better question is do you know right? In our world today, right can change from location to location. What is right in one culture may not be right in another. But God’s right is right wherever you are.

The best barometer for knowing what is right is to ask yourself if this will bring glory to God. If it will, you are pretty safe that it is right. That’s not to say that everything is wrong. But if you live your lives that way, you are sure to do what is right in God’s eyes.

I am thankful for the Word because I know it will always point me in the right direction. It will always show me the right thing to do. I have friends who seldom, if ever, read the Word. Yet they wonder why they have so many troubles. Friends, dig in. Dig deep and discover the “rights” of God’s Word.

Thank You Lord for showing me the right things to do and for leading me in the right direction.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Confession, Discipline, Holy Spirit, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Speech, Testimony

WHERE THE LORD DWELLS

AMOS 1:2

And he said, “The LORD roars from Zion, and from Jerusalem He utters His voice; and the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, and the summit of Carmel dries up.”

I have mentioned a lot in my blogs that I grew up in South Georgia. That’s different that Georgia. I grew up so far south that I thought Atlanta, GA was in the northern states. Lol. So when I speak, people know I’m from the South. I have a southern accent that I can’t deny, nor would I. That is where I dwelt.

I love this imagery which Amos uses. The Lord roars from Zion. He dwells in Jerusalem. This is a clear message to the nation of Israel who had set up worship sites in the northern kingdom. No! God dwells in Jerusalem. That is where He chose to dwell. He didn’t change His location. And you can definitely tell where His voice is coming from. The world will know.

APPLICATION

Isn’t it glorious that now He dwells in us? When we receive His Son as our Savior, He immediately indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit. We become His dwelling place. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our bodies of the temple of the Holy Spirit. And our voice should now be His voice. People should know who indwells us by the way we talk.

Our language has to change. We can’t keep talking the same way we talked before we were saved. The words we choose to use have to reflect the one who indwells us. The words we put in print have to tell others that we are different. We can’t use the world’s words anymore. We are different. We are indwelt.

That’s hard sometimes. We slip up and fall back into the old way of talking. We use some of those old words that don’t sound like Jesus. I have had to confess that as sin too many times. I am thankful for a God who can override my tongue. He can choose my words for me when I want to say something different. I want my words to reflect Him and sound like Him. Don’t you?

Father, forgive me when I fail to reflect You in my speech. I truly want others to hear You and not me.

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