Angry at God?

9 Apr

Lessons from Jonah chapter four:jonah angry

Ever been mad at God?  Jonah was furious because God changed his mind and didn’t destroy Nineveh!  The message Jonah delivered to the Ninevehites brought the intended response–repentance.  So why wasn’t Jonah rejoicing with them?

Have we ever felt resentful about another’s blessings?  Maybe we felt they didn’t deserve that.  We preferred that their nose be rubbed in the dirt.

God asked Jonah why he was angry about His grace, mercy and love.  Jonah simply turned and went away to pout rather than answer.  That is how anger works.  It can be beyond reason.  It refuses to admit its fault in the matter.

God, in His mercy, even though Jonah was mad and pouting, caused a broad-leafed tree to spring up right where Jonah was sitting.  It was very hot there.  Jonah was pleased and liked the shade.  He though things were looking up.

The next day the tree wilted and died.  Jonah complained to high heaven and wished he were dead.  God asked him how he could mourn the loss of the tree but not care one whit about the people of Nineveh.

The Bottom Line:

To follow God means buying into His big idea.  His big idea is so offer everyone grace, mercy and love.  We are ambassadors of His big idea.  Jonah had his own idea about what should happen to the city of Nineveh and wanted it to fall.  Jonah at best is a good example of a bad example of obeying God in actions, not in heart.

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The God of Second Chances

8 Apr

Lessons from Jonah chapter three:Jonah preaching

God doesn’t punish to “get-even” but to give a second chance.  (We’d all profit by following His example when dealing with the wrongs of others.)  Prisons are full of those who tried to “get-even.”  It never works!

When Jonah finally came to his senses, God simply repeated his request.  “Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh!  Preach to them.  They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.”

The natural consequences (with a little of God’s corrective power thrown in) of Jonah’s disobedience turned his life around.  He determined to obey God’s orders to the letter.

He went to Nineveh, he preached that God was going to destroy their city because of their disobedience.  They listened and trusted God.  They repented of their evil life and violent ways, from the king on down hoping that perhaps God would change his mind.

And God did change his mind.  First he had to help Jonah change his mind and then gave Nineveh the chance to change their mind–and they did.

The Bottom Line:

Never underestimate the power of one person’s obedience to God.  Like Jonah, our obedience can save our life and the lives of those around us.  We are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.  The choice is ours but the consequences last through eternity.  Choose life!

 

 

Prayers From Strange Places

5 Apr

Lessons from Jonah chapter two:fish and Jonah

The most heart-felt prayers come from the strangest places!  When all is going smooth in our lives we seldom take time to pray.  But when troubles come, prayers are not far behind.  Jonah thought he was a goner, being thrown off the ship, but God wasn’t finished with him yet.  He provided a giant fish to swallow him and transport him to the coast of Nineveh.

In the belly of that fish Jonah prayed like he had never prayed before.  Can you imagine the darkness, rank odors, and floating debris found in the belly of a giant fish?  If any prayer was genuine and heart-felt, it was Jonah’s.

It appears to me that God uses challenging times to get our attention and turn the focus back to Him.  During those times our true colors shine forth.  As Jonah contemplated his situation he repented that he had tried to turn away from God’s will and Word.  What challenging times has God used to get our attention?

When Jonah prayed, God went into action.  He directed the path of that fish and caused it to vomit Jonah up on the seashore.  Can you imagine the joy of being given a second chance like that?  Our God specializes in the impossible!

The Bottom Line:

God loves everyone and only wants the best for us.  There is nothing to difficult for Him.  Let’s don’t wait to get swallowed by a giant fish to take time to pray.

Jonah Still Speaks

4 Apr

Lesson’s from Jonah chapter one:Jonah overbaord

God knows us better than we know ourselves and has confidence in our abilities.  Therefore when He calls us to a task He knows we have what it takes to see it to completion.

The storms of life don’t come to harm us but to strengthen our abilities. No storm for Jonah would have meant him going his merry way and the people of Nineveh lost.

God cares and loves those who are steeped in sin.  We should never turn our back on them like Jonah tried to do.  Perhaps we should examine the storms in our lives and see if we were running from God’s assignment.

Jonah knew the storm came because of his choice to run from God’s assignment.  He stood up to the defeat by telling his ship-mates to throw him overboard to stop the storm.  They reluctantly did so and when the storm stopped immediately they turned to worship God.  God can use even our bad choices to turn hearts to Him.

The Bottom Line:

We might fear God’s assignments but should fear even more the consequences of running from what He is calling us to do.

 

 

Be ‘care-full’

30 Mar

The Words of Jesus:Jesus cares

Matthew 5:7  “You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-full.’ you find yourselves cared for.”

My Prayer:

ADORATION:

How blessed we are because You cared enough to leave heaven to come to earth to show Your care for us.  Since You cared so much for us–how can we fail to care for others.  You don’t ask us to do something You wouldn’t do.  You did it!  You cared–all the way to Calvary. You lived and died to show how much You care.

CONFESSION:

I care for others–when it is convenient to me.  I’m ashamed to admit that, in light of what all You did for me.  I need Your strength to set self-care aside and care for others on Your behalf.  So many others have shown me Your care.  I can show You my gratefulness by being ‘care-full’ toward others.

THANKSGIVING:

Thank You for the amazing example You lived out to show Your care for mankind.  What a wonderful world this would be if we all just followed Your example.  By doing for others what we would like to do for You–You do indeed accept that as done unto You. Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to Your love and acceptance.

SUPPLICATION:

Help me to draw upon Your strength to set self aside and let You love others through my words and deeds.  How can I best serve You?  May my life be like a window, where Your love can shine through–reflecting Your love in whatever I do.

Contentment that Lasts

26 Mar

Matthew 5:5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less. contentment That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”  

The purpose of advertisement is to make us discontent with who we are, what we look like, and what we have.  Contentment is elusive–just beyond the next new thing that promises contentment–but never delivers.

How does one pursue contentment?  Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13 “I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 says Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you, we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?”

Contentment–apart from godliness–is elusive.  We must daily pursue contentment and doing what we can with what we have.  Gratefulness trumps discontentment.  Being grateful fosters contentment.  Contentment is the state where happiness exists.  It is not dependent upon circumstances, good health, great finances or smooth sailing.  It is a gift God gives as we pursue Him and His purposes daily.

The fruits of contentment are shown as we seek to serve others, rather than be served.  There is no satisfaction in life apart from following in the steps of Jesus and living to be a blessing to others.  We bless others with our time, our possessions, and our talents.  Therein we find purpose and true contentment.

Embraced by God

25 Mar

The Words of Jesus in Matthew 5:4  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is police huggingmost dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the ONE most dear to you.”

My mother was one who collected meaningful “sayings.”  We were always hearing her say “listen to this. . . . isn’t that just so true!”  One of those things she said must have originated from this Bible verse.  She would say, “There is no great loss without some gain.”

At the moment of loss we absolutely disagree with this saying.  Nothing can ever replace the loss we have experienced.  Notice the verse doesn’t say there will be no pain or suffering from the loss.  It just says the loss is the point when God embraces you.

The embrace of God is one that can be felt at any place and under any circumstances.  That embrace is experienced by a great overwhelming peace.  As I looked at my father in the casket I felt the embrace of God.  It is as though He was saying “I am now your father and will care for you in ways your earthly father was unable to do.”

I have also felt that embrace when facing frightening surgeries, or when receiving sad news of the heart breaks of others.  When our son suffered and then died from cancer the embrace was warm and brought peace that passes understanding.  Not that there was no pain but the embrace held me up when I was unable to cope on my own.

God’s embrace is always waiting for us to turn to Him in our deep needs.  He will never leave or forsake us.  Knowing He is always there for us motives us to be there for others.  We can help others feel the embrace of God through our embrace of them in their need.

Pass on God’s embrace!

 

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