Monday, March 31, 2014

Quote - Steve Martin

"Be so good that they can't ignore you."

~ Steve Martin

This quote works in any area of life.  This is an example of what we should aspire to be, but not in a prideful way.  Sometimes you meet someone and they just seem to be different from other people, there is something about them that glows.  We are suppose to be the light on a hill in the darkness.  When we are following God and living His word then people notice, it will draw people to us because they want to know what we are doing.  We can be mighty ambassadors for God or we can blend in with this world.  This choice is up to you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jonah 3:9-10

v. 9-10 "'Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.'  When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened."

I LOVE THIS!  People who the world considers "especially wicked" turning to God with hope and faith and because of this they were saved from being destroyed.  I can imagine during this time period that many thought there was no hope for the people of Assyria, yet they came to know God.
The king's hope (I love looking up the meaning of words to gain knowledge of what I'm studying):

Who - of what character, origin, position, importance
knows - to perceive fact or truth, to establish or fix in memory, be acquainted with by sight or experience
yet - at the present time or particular time, in the time remaining
relent - soften in feeling, compassionate, forgiving
compassion - deep sympathy, feeling to alleviate suffering
turn - move on an axis, reverse position, to bring lower layers to the surface (as in plowing)

In 1956 five missionaries were killed by some men in a jungle tribe in Ecuador.  Later these same men who had killed the missionaries became Christians.  When they heard about what happened in Columbine, CO in the United States, where two teens killed many people at their school their response was "We use to be savages like that too before we came to know Jesus."  We think people can't change, but God does not hold to our logic nor is He bound by our rules.

"You've not outrun the grasp of His grace or overstepped the boundaries of His mercy."  Priscilla Shirer

The king said that maybe God would have compassion on them, such amazing insight for someone who didn't even know God, yet could still hope for a loving God to show compassion on his people.  When you give control over to God, He can do mighty things in your life.  Jonah's message was scary, but there was also an element of hope mixed in.  God was giving the people forty days to repent, plenty of time for the word to spread to the entire city and the outlying villages.  For many of us God has gone past the forty day mark, waiting for us to make a move back to Him.

"The people of Israel had heard many messages from the prophets, but they had refused to repent.  The people of Nineveh only needed to hear God's message once.  Jesus said that at the judgement, the men of Nineveh will stand up to condemn the Israelites for their failure to repent (Matthew 12:39-41).  It is not our hearing God's word that pleases him, but our responding obediently to it."  NIV notes

Some believe that God changed His mind as if He were wrong.  Jeremiah 18:7-8 says "If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned."  He has already written the end so how could He not know what happens up to that time?  He knows when we will turn from Him, when we will come back and those who will never come to Him at all.  Some think that God was repenting, but He does not sin so this would not apply to what He did.  A word used for God in this case is nacham which means 'to be moved to pity'.  So to say that God was mistaken does not make sense to me.  God knows the outcome of every event that unfolds before us.  God is never caught off guard for even one moment.  The Bible is our instruction manual for our lives so I think this shows His vast compassion for those the world thinks of as lost forever.

God didn't change, it was the people in Nineveh who changed.  In Hebrew a word frequently used for repentance is shub which means 'to turn' from sin to God.  It is God's nature to extend love and compassion to us, although we often don't accept it.  The book of Jonah is read by Jewish Rabbi's every year during Yom Kippur to show no one is beyond God's reach and to show His unending mercy for us so that even after we mess up He is willing to forgive us.

Christians should read this book at least once a year to check our hearts for any Jonah qualities that need to be uprooted and restored back to being obedient to God.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jonah 3:5-8

v. 5-8 "The Ninevites believed God.  They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.  Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:

'By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth.  Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.

Jonah was going about the city proclaiming the coming destruction if they did not turn from their ways and immediately the people believed in a God they did not know.  This must have been some sight for Jonah, while he was walking by their must have been such commotion from the people who heard these words, the people stopped what they were doing and changed into sackcloth.  The king and all of the people put on sackcloth and did not eat or drink anything.  Sackcloth was probably very uncomfortable to wear, sin should not be a comfortable fit.  One of the reasons to wear sackcloth was to show repentance for sin, either personally or nationally.  Even the animals did not eat or drink, this was showing that every being was submitting to God.  Jonah was walking around this city, he would have had the attention of everyone due to the words he spoke and the possible harsh state of his body.

This message was for all the people, not just a select few.  All of the people were now equal in their repentance, the king did not say that only the greatest should put on sackcloth.  This king could have kicked Jonah out of the city, but he enforced Jonah's words.  This man also saw the truth and was trying to ensure that his people would all be saved.  A leader should care about the welfare of their people and do the right thing, unfortunately we have many in power around the world now that are not God loving God fearing leaders.  I think that many countries would benefit by having female leaders, there may be less wars and I think that the welfare of the needy would be on the heart of any woman who ran a country.  I pray daily for God to take those out of power who do not know Him and are cruel to their people.  A true leader should serve in the best interest of their country, not to see how they can inflict their power on the weak.

"Forgiveness of past sin qualifies us for present service."  Priscilla Shirer

Many commentators believe this was the greatest revival in history.  Looking back to see what happened during this time period will help us understand why these people didn't hesitate.  There were two plagues in 765 and 759 B.C. even though they were protected by the city walls this would have been devastating probably killing thousands of people and on June 15, 763 B.C. there was a total eclipse of the sun.  The plagues showed that there were things that they could not control, their well defended city was brought to it's knees.  The eclipse must have been scary to the people who probably didn't know what it was at the time.  This takes nothing away from God when Jonah preached to the people.  I believe God uses situations to soften the hearts of the people so that when He sends someone on a mission, the people receiving the words are willing to accept Him.  He has done this from the beginning and He still does it today.

When we are up against a task that appears too grand for us to undertake, we must remember:
  • We are right.  It most likely is too big for us to handle.
  • If God is calling us to it, He will equip us for it.
  • God has been at work in the situation long before we are scheduled to arrive, and He is preparing the way for our obedience to make a difference.     Pricilla Shirer
God's word is for everyone, anytime, no matter what we have done or how long our sin has gone on.  

I don't think that we need to put on sackcloth and ashes on our forehead, but we can do this in spirit.  We can mourn those lost by death, those who choose to turn from God, cruel leaders that continue to still be in power wielding their weapons of hate.  Many things people did in the Bible we can do in spirit today to show God obedience.  

Many times God may give us a task that seems small, insignificant or something we don't want to do.  What we don't see is the ripple effect from our obedience, it may spread through one person to their family, friends and possibly their children and grandchildren.  It's an interesting sight to see when we help other people in that process God can help and heal us.  

We can't truly repent if we intend to keep our sin.  Repentance is accepting that we need God and asking for Him to forgive us.  His offer is hard to comprehend, He gives us love and mercy if we turn from sin.  This deal is unlike any other and if you take it you will reap rewards that will astonish you for decades to come.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote - Today

"This is the beginning of a new day.  You have been given this day to use as you will.  You can waste it or use it for good.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.  In it's place is something that you have left behind.  Let it be something good."

I saw this sign online.  I think this is one of the best daily reminders we could have to think about how precious each and every day is.  Living our lives and not paying attention over time will result in looking back with regret that we did not live our lives according to what God wants for us.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jonah 3:4

v. 4 "On the first day, Jonah started into the city.  He proclaimed: 'Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.'"

I had never thought of Jonah's condition after his release from his watery cell.  Priscilla Shirer spoke about a man in 1926 who had been swallowed whole by a shark.  This man was recovered after two days and of course he was dead, but the description was vivid.  All his hair was gone, he had patches of yellow and brown all over his body, there was a terrible stench from the body starting to break down.  Just imagine Jonah walking into the city, he would have stood out among the inhabitants.  He preached a warning to the people and I think his physically appearance must have had a great impact on the them.  Now when you think of Jonah try to think of this man who is physically scarred, someone who is forever changed on the outside.  Disobedience comes with a price.  His physical appearance may have been changed for the rest of his life, a continual reminder of his defiance.  If we see someone and assume they are filthy and hopeless just remember Jonah.  This man of God went through a massive change so those we may look down upon may have been in Jonah's shoes and have a story to tell.

"God's plans for us are so overwhelmingly beyond anything that we could ever imagine that our feelings or ability to reason His directives cannot be the determining factor for choosing obedience.  Making sense of what God has asked or feeling compelled to cooperate cannot be the prerequisite for choosing obedience.  His Word must be enough."  Priscilla Shirer

Jonah is finally there in the city of Nineveh, ready to preach.  Priscilla Shirer said that God gave Jonah only five words (in Hebrew) and nothing else to say to the people.  We get glued to the words when we hear a perfectly crafted speech.  Jonah did not have an elaborate lengthy speech to move the hearts of the people, these words had power in them because they came from God.  He had five words that changed their lives.  Sometimes simple is better.

The inner wall of Nineveh was about 8 miles to walk, a large city for that time period.  Jonah walked along the streets of the city proclaiming the coming destruction if they did not repent.  God did not outright destroy these people, He gave them a time frame to change their ways.  He could have decimated them, but then there would have been no reason for God to send Jonah.  God is a caring Father, yet even children must be disciplined if they do not obey.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jonah 3:3

v. 3 "Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.  Now Nineveh was a very important city-a visit required three days."

When Jonah was in the fish he said, "What I have vowed I will make good."  The word vow implies a gift of sacrifice.  He wanted to go back to Jerusalem to make a thanksgiving offering, but God told him to go to Nineveh.  This shows that our obedience is more important than the sacrifices that we make.  This probably didn't make sense to Jonah, they were so steeped in the ritual of making sacrifices to God that obedience didn't seem to be the focus in their lives.

Many in Jonah's position at this moment would still choose to ignore God.  After all Jonah had gone through he still did not want to go, but he obeyed God's call.  Sometimes a wake up call does not rouse us to movement or we freeze in place and can't make the first step in obedience.  The enemy is extremely happy for us to stand still in a spiritual coma.  If you are in a moment of rebellion against God, I pray that you will study this important book of the Bible.  Learn from Jonah, so you don't have to be swallowed up by the world into darkness.

Are you amazed that God would choose to use Jonah even after he ran away and his heart still was not in this task he was given, I know I am.  There is no limit on the number of times we are given another chance, although I believe God would like that number to be as small as possible.   

"Oftentimes the greatest hindrance of a new move of God in your life is the last move of God."  Priscilla Shirer

God has His own timing which does not go by our calendar.  Sometimes we are called to an area then when He asks us to move on we don't want to go.  He is constantly stretching out our borders so we can have a greater affect on those around us.  Jonah was a reluctant missionary, he was called to go to a foreign land to speak with those that did not know God.  Sharing God with others should be an underlining mission as a part of our life, not just something we do to get it off of our to do list.

The four steps to reconciliation:
  • admit our sins (that means ALL of them)
  • accept responsibility for your actions, no matter what others do to you
  • ask for forgiveness
  • accept the tasks you are given by God, be obedient no matter what you feel like
In doing this you will be ready for what the world has to throw at you because you are not alone, you have a Father who loves you dearly, you have brothers and sisters around the world who are often in your same situation.  We are a collection of mismatched pieces, when we let God move us, then we can all fit together to make a beautiful picture.  

"When God speaks or allows you to see his hand, giving you the opportunity to participate in His purposes, you don't have an array of options to choose from on how you will respond.  It's clear-cut, plain and and white.  You can either choose to obey or disobey.  No neutral ground."  Priscilla Shirer

This time after being humbled, Jonah obeyed God's command.  This would be funny if he wasn't outright defiant to God.  Just thinking of my kids when I ask them to do something, they resist at first, then after a consequence they have found that they can do what I ask of them, stomping and whining the entire time.  They still have to do what is right, even though they don't want to.  They will learn that if they do it from the start then there will be no consequence.  Life is so much easier this way.  When God puts us in a "time out" we should think about what we did wrong, how it affected those around us and what we could have done differently.  So Jonah appears to be like a child.  Going off of what he wants to do instead of what the Father has asked him to do.  He pulled off a massive fit and his lesson was a massive fish.  I think this is a good example for parents to make the punishment fit the crime.  We are so hard headed that we often pick and choose what we want to do, instead of following the task that has been appointed to us.

Nineveh was 500 miles northeast of Joppa.  If Jonah sold his possessions to pay for his passage to Tarshish then maybe he was without any money for his journey to Nineveh.  I don't know if this is the case, but I'm thinking that Jonah didn't take anything with him when he was thrown overboard.  He may have had to rely on God and the kindness of strangers to make it to Nineveh.  It must have been a difficult trip, looking on the map it shows mountains and desert.  He might have stuck to the coast with it's mountains or went across a massive desert, either way it was not an easy journey.  God will ask things of us that will be difficult, but He will give us the grace to complete the task.

Nineveh was a city of around 600,000 people, an extremely large city for this time period.  Outside the city were towns that were influenced by Nineveh.  It was powerful, wealthy and a very important city.  This city was full of brutality and violence and outsiders avoided it.  Jonah was walking straight into this even though he felt like going the opposite direction.

"A way to determine where our allegiance lies is to consider how we respond to a divine intervention."  Priscilla Shirer

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What are you shopping for?

This is for all the exhausted, stressed, angry, frustrated sweet women out there who don't think they are good enough and compare themselves to other moms.   Or am I the only one who has cried at the end of the day covered in Cheerios and baby food?

God has placed you in this exact moment in time with these specific children to raise them to know Him and when you look back you will be amazed at what God has been able to do with you, although it might not seem so in this present moment. 

My mom gave me a copy of this and I thought I would share this with you.  It was from a handout she had received a while back from Old Paths Tract Society, Inc.  When we are too busy during our day to spend some time with God we really start to unravel.  Moms are so busy with car pool lines, another trip to the store, homework, etc.  We need to remember that the items in this grocery store are vital to make us the moms that God has created us to be.  If we fill our carts with the things below we will be a mighty force in God's Kingdom.  Do not let the insignificant things of this world take your time and attention.  I know that I need this daily or I'll loose my temper and anger will abound.  I can guarantee that if our kids went with us to this store that they would surely behave!  Don't worry, men you can also go to this grocery store.

Shop in Heaven's Grocery Store

I was walking down life's highway a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read Heaven's Grocery Store.
As I got a little closer, the door came open wide,
And when I came to myself, I was standing inside.
I saw a host of angels; they were standing everywhere.
And one angel said, "My child, shop with care."
Everything a Christian needed was in that grocery store.
And all you couldn't carry you could come back the next day for more.
First, I got some patience, love was in the same row.
Further down was understanding, you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of wisdom, a bag or two of faith.
I just couldn't miss the Holy Ghost for He was all over the place.
I stopped to get some strength and courage to help me run the race.
By then my basket was getting full, but I remembered I needed some grace.
I didn't forget salvation, for salvation that was free.
So, I tried to get enough of that to save you and me.
Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill.
For I thought I had everything to do my Master's will.
As I went up the aisle, I saw prayer and just had to put that in.
For I knew when I stepped outside, I would run right into sin.
Peace and joy were plentiful, they were on the last shelf.
Song and praises were hanging near so I just helped myself.
Then, I said, "Now how much do I owe?"
He just smiled and said, "Just take them everywhere you go."
"How much do I really owe?"
He smiled and said, "My child, Jesus paid your bill a long time ago."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Quote - The Trail We Follow

Priscilla Shirer talks about an Indian man that said, "I have come to know the carvings of Jesus, I have come to know His marking, I follow his trail."

Such a beautiful way of expressing our desire to follow Him when everything else around us is against this.  Last summer horseback riding in the Rocky Mountain National Park we passed an open field.  Our guide said that this use to be a road for stagecoaches and you could still see in the tall grass two lines going across the field.  Those two lines were lighter than the rest of the grass, but the grass was all the same height.  There seems to be a permanent mark of the path to follow.  It was amazing to see that long after people stopped using this trail there was still such a defining imprint upon the earth that may never go away.

This trail is like following Jesus.  Once we humbly go to God and ask forgiveness, He gives us the Holy Spirit, to guide us through the rough terrain in this world.  His mark will forever be on the path, all we have to do is follow it.