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Jonah: Part 4

 

 

Read Jonah: chapter 4

Recap: In chapter 1, Jonah runs from a direct command from God to go and warn the people of Nineveh to repent or God would deal harshly with them. In chapter 2, Jonah has been swallowed by a huge fish and is now crying out to God in his distress. Chapter 3 finds Jonah back on dry land (having been vomited up by the fish) and obeying God’s command to go to Nineveh and warn the people there of God’s judgement.

In chapter 4 we find Jonah angry that God has had compassion on the people of Nineveh. He proclaims that this is why he tried to run, because he knew that God is a compassionate God and would have compassion on these unholy people. Nineveh was the oldest and most-populous city in Assyria. From the description of Nineveh in Nahum 3 we see that the people of Nineveh were wicked, evil people and Nahum 1 tells us that they were enemies of Israel and of God. Jonah was angry because God had compassion on these sworn enemies of Israel. God teaches Jonah a lesson in compassion through a plant that grows and provides shade for Jonah and then withers away, leaving Jonah in the scorching heat. Jonah was angry about the plant withering away and in verses 9-11 God addresses Jonah’s anger:

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant? “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” 

Yes, we could focus on Jonah, who seems to be acting like a petulant child, but I want to focus on the bigger picture. I want to focus on the lesson that God is trying to teach Jonah.

In verse 2, Jonah describes the character of God:

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 

When Jonah went to Nineveh in chapter 3 and warned them of their impending doom, they turned from their wicked ways. The people listened to Jonah and repented. Because of their transformed hearts, God chose not to deal with them the way that He had intended too. He sent Jonah to warn them before He wiped them off the face of the earth. Even though they were His enemy, He still gave them a chance to repent. Why? God had created the people of Nineveh, just as He created the rest of us and He didn’t want them to perish. He didn’t want to have to deal with them harshly, just as He doesn’t want to deal with any of us today harshly. He sends His people to warn us of  the impending consequences of our sin. Romans 5:10 tells us:

 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We have ALL been God’s enemies! He has chosen to save every one of us because He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We don’t deserve His compassion any more than the people of Nineveh did, but He relents from sending calamity when we repent and transform our hearts.

What Jonah is not understanding is that God expects the same of us. We are to be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We are to be willing to forgive an enemy. We are to warn those who are buried in their sin. We are to warn them from hearts of compassion and love. God gives us ALL chance after chance after chance to repent and change. Why do we think that it is okay for us to just write other people off just because they have offended us or they believe differently? Why do we think that it is okay to wallow in our anger and self-righteous attitudes, when it is so far off from what God wants?

I admit that I have been known to hold a grudge and have spent some time wallowing in my anger over a slight or perceived injustice. Even when I was justified in my anger, I allowed it to harden my heart against those who had bullied me or hurt me. I did not act as God would want me too. I acted as Jonah and I too, became a petulant child who was only interested in my pride, my pain, myself. I did not care about praying for the situation or about seeking reconciliation. I was willing to write the person off and never think of them again.

NOT A VERY CHRIST LIKE ATTITUDE!

My Challenge To You: Is there anyone that you think of as your enemy? Why? I challenge you to start praying for that person and the situation. Ask God to open up the doors of communication that would allow healing in the relationship. Be an example of grace, compassion, peace and love as you seek to build that relationship. Do not allow your anger turn you into a dramatic, all about me, petulant child.

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Jonah was out of control. Don’t allow his attitude to keep you from God’s will for you and for those He is seeking to save. Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. We have the same mission on this earth. We can’t seek and save the lost when we are wallowing in our self-righteous anger. Let go of the anger and take on the characteristics of God. We are to be obedient to God’s will. ALWAYS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Read Jonah: Chapter 3

In chapter 1, Jonah ran from a direct command from God and ended up in the belly of a huge fish. In chapter 2, Jonah cries out in his distress and God commands the fish to vomit Jonah on dry land. Now in chapter 3, God again commands Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim God’s message there. Jonah obeys this time and goes to Nineveh and gives the residents there God’s message.

What I find myself wondering is: what is Jonah’s motivation for obeying God this time around?

Is he wholeheartedly and gratefully obeying God’s command?

Is he reluctantly stepping out in obedience because he knows he doesn’t have a choice?

Is he obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

Motivation matters. For me, I usually obey reluctantly and fearfully. I don’t think I have ever obeyed with a rebellious spirit, but I know that I usually don’t obey wholeheartedly and gratefully. I will admit to arguing with God and making excuses as to why He shouldn’t use me.  Moses and Gideon were reluctant servants. Although, God does bless the reluctant servant, I believe that He would prefer us to serve like Jesus, who served from a humble heart. Jesus was on this earth to fulfill His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). Jesus never complained about His God-given assignments. He never argued with God. He did what was expected of Him from a posture of submission and love.

My Challenge To You: I want you to reflect on your own motivation to obey God. Use a journal and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you obeying a command from God reluctantly because you know you don’t have a choice?

2. Are you obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

3. Do you argue with God and make excuses, trying to convince God that He needs to choose someone else?

4. Are you obeying wholeheartedly and with a humble heart like Jesus?

5. Are you obeying because you know that God’s will is above your own and that is the only thing that matters?

6. Are you obeying out of love for God and others?

Be honest with yourself. Your answers will reveal where some heart work needs to be done. I have heart work to do myself. It is a part of the process of sanctification and transforming ourselves into the likeness of Christ. It is a lifelong journey. Don’t get discouraged. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us in the journey, so never give up. Keep moving forward and remember that God works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

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Read Jonah: Chapter 2

In Jonah chapter 1, we find Jonah disobeying a direct command from God. Instead of being obedient, Jonah ran the other way.

Jonah chapter 2, we find Jonah in the belly of a big fish. Because of his disobedience, God had a big fish swallow him. Jonah is now dealing with the consequence of his actions and he is not happy about it. He starts to pray a prayer of desperation, ” In my distress I called to the Lord” “from deep in the realm of the dead I called for help.”

I imagine that Jonah has now realized that God is not messing around and he has started to panic. Will he die in the belly of this fish? Will God spare his life and give him another chance? Will God still be willing to use him for His purpose?

The big lesson here is that we CAN’T hide or run from God! Adam and Eve found that out when they tried to hide from God after they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis chapter 2. I am almost certain that most of us turn to God in desperation when we are sinking in the mess of our own making and can’t seem to find the way out on our own. We call out to God in distress when we are stuck struggling with the consequences of our own sin.

Jonah would have saved a lot of time and heartache had he obeyed God in the first place. In my own life, I have been running from God. I have been hiding behind my anxieties. Using my anxieties as an excuse not to do what God is calling me to. But Guess what? God did not just leave Jonah to die in the belly of that fish! After Jonah prayed, God had the fish vomit Jonah onto dry land. God continued to pursue Jonah! He did not seek someone more willing to carry out this mission. God had handpicked Jonah for this job and even though Jonah wasted time in his disobedience, God waited until Jonah got over himself.

WOW! I see where this is going, Lord! My hiding behind my anxiety is a sin. Anxiety IS NOT from God and the longer I wallow in it and use it as an excuse to keep me from my God-given mission, the longer I keep other women from hearing about the love of God or knowing that they are loved by a risen Savior. God has pursued me for years now. I run and I hide. God will not choose someone else to fulfill a mission that He has handpicked me to accomplish and I guess I better stop playing Jonah and get my act together.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU: If you are running from God or hiding behind an excuse so you won’t have to fulfill a God-given purpose, STOP RUNNING! STOP HIDING! Take it from me, it doesn’t work. God will not give up on you. If He has handpicked you for a special mission then, believe me, He will pursue you until you crack under the pressure and become an obedient vessel that He can use. Don’t choose living in sin over being obedient to the will of God. It never works out. It just makes you miserable. I am there. Living a life trapped in a prison of anxiety for years is no fun. I am crying out to God and I will be seeking help. FINALLY! And when God commands this big fish of anxiety to vomit me out, I will be ready and willing to accomplish His will in my life.

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to see the anxiety for what it is, SIN. I have wasted so many years wallowing in my own pathetic issues. I have wasted so many years making excuses for my running and hiding from your will. I am so sorry for my disobedience. I have been horrible and yet you pursue me still. I am 49 years old and you still pursue me. Never once, did you give up on me and choose someone else for this mission. I am humbled and I am grateful. Forgive me, Lord and help me heal as I seek help. I am here, Lord, use me.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Side Note: Many times when I write a post, I don’t know where it will go until I start writing. They all end up going in directions that I never intended. That is God. I am the instrument and He is the author. This one is very personal. It touches on something that I have struggled with for ages. I had no idea when I started writing this post that it would go this way. I could have kept it personal and not publish it, but I made a promise to be transparent. I want to let you see my mess, so that you can see a God that loves and heals. My blog has been a journey in my relationship with God, as I have struggled with my own humanness and God’s continual pursuit of me.

 

 

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Read Jonah: Chapter 1

I think we have all heard the story of Jonah, the guy who was swallowed up by the fish because he ran away from God. In verse 2 God tells Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” In response, Jonah boards a ship headed in the opposite direction. This did not go over well with God! He sent a storm that terrified the ships crew. They eventually confronted Jonah and at Jonah’s command, they threw him overboard. The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

In this chapter, we need to address the sin, the consequence, and the presence of innocent bystanders:

The sin:

Jonah was disobedient to God’s command. Instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded him, Jonah took off in the other direction.

The Consequence:

God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah sat in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

The Innocent Bystanders: 

The ships crew were innocent bystanders that got sucked into the mess Jonah made when he tried to run from God. They were thrown off schedule because of the storm. They lost precious cargo because they threw it into the sea, trying to lighten the weight of the ship. They dealt with emotional trauma because of the storm and ensuing chaos and didn’t know how to make it stop. These men suffered because of Jonah’s sin.

My Challenge To You:

We ALL have sin in our lives. That is simply a natural part of being human. I am challenging you to search your heart of any sin(s) that you might be struggling with today.

Journal the following:

The Sin: 

What sin or sins are you struggling with today? Be specific. This is between you and God. But, you can’t heal it unless you confess it.

The Consequence:

What consequences are you dealing with because of that sin(s)? How do you feel knowing that you could have avoided the consequence had you made a different decision? How will you address the temptation to sin in the future?

The Innocent Bystanders: 

Who are the people affected by your sin? Be sure to name everyone that was affected by your sin, even if you feel the harm to them was minimal. If someone was affected in ANY way by your actions then they have suffered and need to be acknowledged. How were they affected? For every person on your list, write down how they were affected. BE SPECIFIC! Write down every way someone else has suffered because of your actions. Lastly, what can you do to repair the damage that you have done? If you have caused someone to suffer, you need to take responsibility for your actions. You need to be proactive in repairing the damage that you have done. You need to seek forgiveness for your sin, regardless of whether you are forgiven, you need to seek forgiveness.

 

Jonah found out the hard way that sin results in consequences. I’m sure if we are honest, then we all can admit that we have suffered consequences as a result of sin in our lives. Consequences that we could have avoided, had we made a better decision. Unfortunately, other people often have to suffer the consequences of our sinful behavior too. This is not fair to the other people who get hurt because of our foolish choices. Other people should not have to clean up the messes we make because we CHOOSE to sin. SIN IS A CHOICE!

SEEK GOD:

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Hebrews 2:18

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We are not tempted without having a way out. God loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for our sins. HE GIVES US A WAY OUT! We need only to ask for His help. Seek God and He will show you the way out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Matthew 26:69-74

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Let’s take a look at a few verses back. In Matthew 31-35 Jesus was telling the disciples that they would all fall away on account of Him. Peter answers that even if the rest fall away, that he never will. Jesus tells Peter that he will disown Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Peter declares that he WILL NEVER disown Jesus.

Then we get to verses 69-75 where we find Peter in the courtyard, surrounded by people. The people start to accuse him of being with Jesus. He denies it three times. Not only does he deny Jesus, he calls down curses and swears to them that he doesn’t know the man Jesus. Immediately after the third denial a rooster crows and Peter remembers the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter was distraught. He went outside and wept bitterly.

I can imagine how Peter felt. He loved Jesus deeply and I believe that he was sincere in his belief that he would NEVER disown Jesus. He got caught up in the moment. He was afraid of what would happen if he acknowledged Jesus. He was overcome with guilt, regret and shame at what he had done and he wept bitterly.

I have made mistakes that caused me regret. I have lashed out in anger, yelled at my kids in frustration, and I have been mean spirited to those I love and strangers who happened to cross my path at the wrong moment. I have found that there are usually three reasons for regret:

Things we have done in the past – We have all done things in the past that we regret. Those actions that haunt us for years after they happen. We carry them around and they condemn us and keep us judging ourselves harshly.

Things that we did not do in the past – Those things that we SHOULD have done, but didn’t. Those things we wish we would have done, but now it’s to late. These can be just as condemning as those things we actually did. They haunt us, making us forever tell ourselves, “I wish I would have.”

Things we are doing now – Those bad decisions that we continue to make that we regret each and every time, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves from making them. These regrets will condemn us until we don’t care anymore and we give up trying.

Regret. Guilt. Shame. Condemnation. These are all feelings that the devil piles on us to keep us stuck in our choices and mistakes, keeping us separated from the God who loves us. God does not want us to be stuck in our feelings of regret, guilt and shame. God does not condemn us for our past or present bad choices (Romans 8:1). We have a new life in Jesus, IF we choose to accept Jesus as our Savior. We WILL be forgiven and cleansed of our sins, IF we repent and change our ways. God will NEVER weigh us down with those negative feelings of regret, shame, guilt and condemnation, so if you are feeling any of those right now, they are from the devil and he is trying to keep you from the love of God. Go to the Father and cry out to Him in your distress. He is a loving, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God who is full of grace. He will come to us in the midst of our bad decisions and He will cleanse us right where we are.

Make that decision not to live in regret. There is no reason to allow regret to keep you from all God has for you. Keep your eyes on God and let go of those emotions that are from Satan. If there is anything I can do to help you, I am just an email away! In the meantime, God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I want with all of my heart to be the woman who loves like Jesus. I don’t want to be the woman who judges someone before I know their life story. I don’t want to be the woman who snaps at people when I have had a bad day. I don’t want to be the woman who is impatient when teaching others. I don’t want to be the woman who gossips about others. But, let’s get real. As much as, I don’t want to do those things, I am human. I am an imperfect woman who does her best to love like Jesus, but I am not Jesus, so I fail, sometimes more than I succeed.

How do we love like Jesus?

There are days when I’m not really sure how to love like Jesus. It should be easy to make loving others a lifestyle. It should be easy to make loving others a priority in your every day life. But, it isn’t easy. There are days when I get so wrapped up in my own activities and thoughts that I miss that opportunity to love someone who needs my love. I miss opportunities because I am so focused on ME and what is going on in MY life. I am then filled with regret at having let an opportunity go. I regret the possibility that I have added to someone’s burden or sadness. I regret that I in any way disappointed God. How did Jesus love? The New Testament tells us how Jesus loved. Five examples are listed below:

  1. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Jesus was sent to seek and save the lost so that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). If Jesus came to seek and save the lost, then that is our God-given purpose too. John 3:16 tells us that God so LOVED the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. God LOVED us so much that He sent His beloved Son to seek and save the lost. Our mission and ministry as Christians is to seek and save the lost in our own sphere of influence. How do we do that? We build relationships. We set the example that Jesus set for us. If we are intentional in building those relationships and we are intentional in acting like Christ in ALL areas of our lives, those around us WILL ask why we live like we do? Why we have joy in the midst of sorrow? Why we choose to love instead of hate? They will ask. And that door will open for you to share your Jesus story.
  2. Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – I don’t think any of us can argue that Jesus suffered more than most of us will ever suffer in our lives. He was also tempted by Satan to sin. The thing is: Jesus DID NOT SIN! Jesus NEVER GAVE IN TO SATAN’S TACTICS! Of course, we are not Jesus and when we are tempted we have that tendency to give in. We are human and imperfect after all. But, because Jesus suffered and was tempted, He can now help us when we are being tempted. We have all suffered in some way in our lives. No one is immune to heartache and temptation. And while there will be times when we give in to temptation, we can still use our experiences to help those around us who are suffering and being tempted to sin. Be willing to walk alongside that person who needs accountability and encouragement. Remind them of 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 
  3. Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” Matthew 14:14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. – I think I have proven my point that Jesus felt compassion for people who were hurting in any way. These are not the only verses that attest to the compassion that Jesus showed the people He came across, but I will let you find the rest. My point here is that the compassion that Jesus felt LED HIM TO ACTION. When He felt compassion for someone or a group of people, He acted on that compassion and fed the multitudes, healed the sick, delivered the demon possessed, taught about God and living a Godly life, and rebuked from a place of love and not condemnation. We are called to do the same. We are called to feel compassion for the hurting and heartbroken in the world around us. We are also called to ACT on that compassion. Our compassion must lead us to feed the hungry, minister to the sick, build relationships, disciple others, and even rebuke from a place of love. There are so many ways that we can show our love to those around us IF we allow our compassion to lead us into ACTION. 
  4. Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – The Jesus Centered Bible uses the term understand instead of empathize. Jesus understands our weaknesses. He was human and He was tempted. He understands our imperfections. He understands that we can not face the temptations and trials of life on our own. We need to have that same understanding for others. Because we know what it is like to be tempted and fail in our efforts to fight temptation, we need to be understanding when others fail. We all have weaknesses. We need to be willing to understand someone else’s weakness and step out to be that strong tower for them when necessary.
  5. Romans 8:34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. – The definition of intercede is to intervene on behalf of another. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for US. Despite the fact that we are NOT worthy of His intervention, Jesus intercedes on our behalf. Jesus asks for mercy and grace on our behalf. If Jesus is sitting in Heaven interceding to the Father for us and our imperfect, sin-filled selves, don’t you think we owe it to those in our lives to intercede for them. We are called to intercede/intervene on behalf of others. I have prayed prayers of intercession on behalf of my kids and miracles have come about because of those prayers. Don’t miss the miracle in someone else’s life because you refuse to pray for them. We are not any better than anyone else and we are never to good to intercede on behalf of another.

Jesus LOVES us! Jesus shows His love by: 1. Seeking and saving the lost, 2. Helping those who are being tempted, 3. Having compassion for the hurting and ACTING on that compassion, 4. Understanding the weaknesses of others, and 5. He intercedes for us.

We are called to BE examples of Jesus in this world. To Be an example of Jesus means that we need to LOVE OTHERS just as He loved. My CHALLENGE to you is to use the above five examples to love those in your sphere of influence on an every day basis. We each have at least one opportunity every day to show the love of Jesus to someone else. Time is short, my friends! GO OUT and LOVE OTHERS TO JESUS!

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Guided By God

 

Exodus 15:13

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Exodus 13:21-22

21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Romans 8:14

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 14:26

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Galatians 5:16

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He didn’t just let them wander aimlessly in the wilderness. God knew that they would need a guide to get them to the promised land and so He led them the entire way. By day, He led them with a pillar of cloud and by night He led them with a pillar of fire. He never left them to travel alone through enemy territory and He never expected them to find their own way to the land flowing with milk and honey.

It is the same for us today. God is still with us just as He was with the Israelites in the Old Testament. Today He guides us with His Spirit. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in God’s will and purpose for our lives. The Holy Spirit was also sent  to teach us how to live a life that glorifies God and sets a Christlike example to the world around us. But, just as the Israelites could not make it to the promised land without God guiding them, we will never be able to live as a Christian without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have attended church my entire life and I knew God, but I was never discipled within the church. It was all surface level. Go to church on Sunday and then the rest of the week God was forgotten. It was only when I left organized religion in 2011 did I start to grow in my relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I knew that I had to hang on tighter because following Jesus on your own is never easy. The Holy Spirit has discipled me and has taught me what being a full-time disciple of Jesus is really about. I am on a journey of seeking God’s will for the next season of my life and of learning how to “Be Jesus” to the world around me. The Holy Spirit has been that guide for me. He also keeps me from doing what I know is against God. He guides me through enemy territory and He is guiding me to a land flowing with milk and honey: Heaven. He has been a precious gift that I could not live without!

CHALLENGE:

I am challenging you to do a topical Bible study on the Holy Spirit. He is found in the Old and New Testaments and I think you will be surprised by the different ways that He helps us. Seek the Holy Spirit for direction in EVERY decision you make. Tune in to His whisperings, because He also acts as our conscience, letting us know when we are on the wrong path. If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit already dwells within you. It takes practice to “walk by the Spirit” as we are told to do in Galatians 5:16, but the more you tune into the Spirit in EVERY aspect of your life the easier it will become. Ask the Spirit to guide you. He will!

 

 

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Joseph Was Obedient

 

Matthew 1:20-25

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2:13-14

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

Matthew 2:19-22

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,

I have been doing a study of Matthew this month. In this Advent season, I wanted to immerse myself in the birth and life of Jesus. What caught my attention was the obedience of Joseph. The Bible tells us about other people who were obedient to God, but what strikes me about Joseph, is that he NEVER questioned the command. Joseph obeyed God without complaint or argument. He NEVER sighed and uttered a doubtful, “But God, WHY?”

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about myself. I can imagine God hesitating in giving me any command, because my response is always the same, “BUT GOD! THAT WILL TAKE ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE! DO I HAVE TO?” I kick and scream until the moment passes. If the command seems relatively easy, I may obey after some serious analyzing of the situation. Some of the harder commands I have ignored and hope God doesn’t notice.

CONFESSION:

I now wonder what I have missed out on by not immediately obeying God’s every command. How different would my life be had I obeyed? Do I regret not living a life of obedience like Joseph did? The short answer is Yes! I have sabotaged my own life and I have not brought any glory to God by my disobedience. Has someone suffered because I refused to listen? What blessings have I or someone else missed out on because of my defiance? Looking at it from this perspective, I am deeply sorry I have allowed my fear and unwillingness to keep me from partnering with God in His will on this earth. It is my loss and a deep regret.

SO NOW WHAT?

I use that regret to push myself to do better in the future. If I know that God is commanding me to do something, I need to do it. I need to jump and trust God for the outcome. I need to let go of my need to analyze everything, because there will always be a reason NOT to do something. God did ask the prophets to do some CRAZY things! No good comes from living in regret. Commit to do better and trust God for guidance.

Father God,

I am asking forgiveness for not always obeying when you give me a command. It is not my place to question you. I need to obey you immediately and trust you with the outcome. I am so sorry that I have let you down and have possibly hurt others in my disobedience. I am making a commitment to make obedience a way of life in the future. I will jump first and trust you always. Help me in this, Lord. Give me a heart of obedience. I pray this in Jesus name.

Amen

 

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I heard about the Romans Road to Salvation many years ago, but had not taken the time to read the corresponding scriptures until recently. My personal salvation story is a little different. I will go into that in another post, but in this one I want to say that I absolutely love the straight forward approach of the Romans Road! I discovered that God had wisely placed in the Bible a road map for leading someone to Christ. It shouldn’t have surprised me, the Bible is full of wisdom for just about any situation we will ever face. Below is the Romans Road to Salvation:

The Problem:

Romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:10

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

These verses give us a bleak scenario on the human condition. Paul makes it pretty clear, we have ALL sinned. We ALL fall short of the glory of God and NONE of us is righteous, NOT EVEN ONE! There is not one person on this earth that is living without some sin in his/her life. In some way, shape or form we ALL sin against God. Not one of us is perfect and not one of us will ever be able to say that we are sin free.

The Consequences:

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We learned in the verses above that we all have sin in our lives. The consequences of that sin is death. BUT God gives us the GIFT of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

No Excuses:

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

God has shown and continues to show us His eternal power and and divine nature. Look around you; the beautiful sunset over the ocean, trees decked out in their Fall finest, skyscrapers that seem to touch the clouds, the list goes on and on. God has shown us His power. There is no excuse for living in sin, but in His grace God gave us a way out:

The Solution:

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins. Christ died for us, so that we may live eternally. God loved us that much!

The Response:

Romans 10:9-10

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

We CAN have eternal life in Heaven after this life is over. We have to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and it is only through Him that we be saved from our sin and the eternal fires of Hell. We have to declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. It is when we profess our faith and share our faith with others that God works in our hearts and transforms our lives.

The Assurance:

Romans 10:13

for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God promised that when we profess Jesus as our Savior and call on the name of the Lord we WILL be saved! How reassuring to know that even though life may one struggle after another, but if we call on God, we WILL be saved and spend eternal life in Heaven.

The Promise:

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God promises three things in these verses if we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead to save us from our sins and if we profess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord:

  1. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. We are no longer condemned in our sin.
  3. Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

If you are someone who has been wondering what a life in Christ is all about or you are ready to take the next step, the Romans Road is a great place to start and you are always invited to contact me and we can go through it together. I am always here to share how God has worked in my heart and my life and to walk with you as you discover Jesus in your own life. God Bless!

JESUS IS LORD!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Psalm 91:9-13

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Psalm 27:5

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 31:20

In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.

One of the first things Cherokee and Chris did when they bought the new house in July was buy Chickens. We have 24 chickens and they have their own space in the yard and a safe, comfortable coop. On the first day the chickens were big enough to run free in their yard, I asked Chris how long it would take to round up all 24 chickens every evening and get them back in the coop. Chris told me that they would go back in the coop on their own as the sun went down. He was right. I watched as the sun went down and one by one they headed for the coop and huddled together inside the door waiting for Cherokee or Chris to tuck them in safely for the night. I was amazed that they knew somehow that they needed to be tucked in for the night to keep them safe from predators of the night (okay, maybe they didn’t “think” all that, but somehow they knew they needed to be tucked in for the night).

Watching the chickens as they headed for the shelter of the coop reminded me how we, as humans, sometimes need shelter from the dark moments of our lives. In life, we will come upon predators who may want to harm us. We will experience the storms of life and need to seek refuge. where is our shelter? The chickens know that they have a coop to keep them safe, but where do we go when the night starts to fall and we are surrounded by darkness and evil? 

We go to God. We need to find shelter in God. Psalm 91:11 says that God commands His angels concerning us to guard us in ALL our ways. Psalm 27:5 says that when the day of trouble comes that God will keep us safe in His dwelling. Psalm 31:20 reminds us that God keeps us safe in His dwelling from accusing tongues.

Life is full of problems, heartache and pain. The reality is that there IS evil in the world. We can’t escape that fact. We can’t run from the hardships of life. It wouldn’t matter where we run to, the hardships will only follow us. The only thing that we can do is seek shelter under the wings of the Almighty God. God promises us in His word that He IS our shelter and that He WILL protect us. God does not break His promises. We need to trust that when the pain of the world hits us in the gut, that God will be our shelter and in Him we will find refuge and safety.

 

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