Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quote - Priscilla Shirer

"While His ways are unsearchable and his methods beyond our ability to comprehend, He will graciously lift blinding veils and give revelation to those who come in humility with open hearts to hear, receive, and obey His word."

~Priscilla Shirer

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Jonah 4:7-9

v. 7-9  "But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.  When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint.  He wanted to die, and said, 'It would be better for me to die than to live.'  But God said to Jonah, 'Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?'  'I do,' he said.  'I am angry enough to die.'"

We are so happy when we get what we want.  God provides for our needs, yet He can take something away from us at any moment.  I think that when we push God away He has no obligation to keep blessing us.  It is not that He doesn't want to help us, He doesn't want to encourage bad or sinful behavior.  Jonah went through a painful realignment, which could have been avoided if he made better choices.

The worm that God sent might have started at the base of the plant.  When we let the enemy in he often will not mess with the outer layers of our soul, he will go to the roots, down deep because he knows that if he can get us away from God, going to the source of our belief is his best chance.  Did Jonah know the reason the plant withered at first?  I don't know, but he must have been so frustrated that again he was in a miserable situation.  All the while he was focusing on outward issues when he should have been working on his heart and mind.  Our perception of reality is sometimes an illusion brought on by a reflection in a warped mirror to make everything appear in our favor, even if we are sorely mistaken.

Priscilla Shirer talks about how God used a specific plant that would be large enough that it would provide shade, God kept animals from harming Jonah and the wind came from the east which meant that he could not have been protected from the city walls.  She also said that God was strategic with the details that He used to carry out His divine purpose.

The worm, the sun and the wind all came one after the other.  Many times in life when one bad thing happens there is a landslide of other things that come charging at us and we feel like we won't make it through this moment.  This is where we are tested.  Yes, God does test us, but He will not tempt us.  So between God's testing, attacks from the enemy, the choices we make and the actions of others we often feel that we will not make it through to the other side.

God again showed grace to Jonah and again Jonah was unable to give grace to Nineveh.  He had plenty of opportunities, yet he could not let go of his anger.  We will be held back when we keep things from God and do not turn them over to Him.  He is more than capable to take care of the anger, sadness and pain in our lives.  God's grace is given to you, will you extend that grace to others?  Not one of us deserves grace, not one of us can even come close.  God freely gives us a wonderful gift and in return we are to give that gift away to other people.

When I wrote a post about Jonah 2:10, where God made the fish spit Jonah out onto land.  I received an interesting comment that said that I made God sound like an abuser and that this person would cut out someone from their life if they were treated this way.  I can see how some view God in this light.  Many preachers have preached the fire and brimstone theory, where you will never be good enough and you are probably going to hell.  The only thing right about this is that we are not good enough, that is where God's grace comes in and covers us.  If this person has been hurt by some one who says they are a Christian then that just reinforces the view that God is mean.  Do I get mad when I receive a comment like that?  No, I think that we should see past the actions of others and see their hearts.  This person doesn't sound like they believe, yet they were brought to my blog for a reason.  My goal is to share God's word and share my Bible study notes, not misrepresent Him.  If no one else needed this then I definitely do because I am in need daily of His word.  I thought it was very interesting that this person saw a mean God and not a disobedient person who received an action for defiance.  The enemy likes to try to disguise discipline from God as if it were punishment so that God looks like He is mean instead of a caring Father.

Everyone looks at the Bible a little differently due to our life experiences, views from our family growing up and where we are at in our walk with God.  Yes, God can be angry and discipline us when we are not in His will.  The ENTIRE Bible shows that He is waiting for us to turn to Him.  His love has no limit and He is happy to bless us, if only we will turn towards Him.  I wonder if this person who sees God in such an unfavorable light can see throughout the Bible how many times the people turned from Him.  If there were not such disobedience then the Bible might be a whole lot shorter, but then we wouldn't see ourselves in the colorful characters that are spread out among the pages of this book.

Again Jonah wanted to die, when he doesn't get his way he either runs away or wants to die.  This makes for a very unhappy spiritual life.  He is our example of what not to do, we should not let our feelings rule us.  Again God asked if Jonah had a right to be angry about his circumstances.  We may never be in Jonah's exact situation, but how many times a day do we get mad because people are being slow, traffic is backed up, someone unleashed an emotional mess in our direction or our kids are having a meltdown when we are trying to leave the house.  Friends, this is a heart check.

Are you mad right now at someone or something that happened to you that you can not give to God?  I pray that we all will turn everything over to God and that nothing will get in the way of our relationship with Him.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quote - Ignorance

"Ignorance is not innocence."

I saw this on a piece of paper that my mom typed a long time ago.  There is so much said in just a few words.  I have heard people say they don't want to know about the bad things going on in the world.  I don't think that you need to be inundated with our 24 hour news cycle, then it all seems too big and that we can't help at all.  Christians are not called to sit on the sidelines with our backs to the world.  We have a mission to help others.  Now you don't have to help every cause that comes your way, but should we do nothing and be content in our own little world.  No, I believe we all can help.  Just pick a cause that is close to your heart and do what you can.

Not everyone can go on a mission trip to the other side of the world or can give thousands of dollars every year.  If everyone who could help did so then many would get food, medicine, shelter, education, etc.  I believe every type of charity would be covered if we all followed God like we are suppose to.  There may be someone waiting for you to help, I know that God has been waiting a long time for you to take a step out of you comfort zone.  My heart goes to charities that help adults with special needs like my brother Bryan who died last year and since I'm an Army veteran I like to support charities that help my brothers and sisters who have been wounded in combat.  If you can't think of anything then give it time, something will be brought to you attention.  There are so many to choose from, but God has one specifically for you.

Just remember even one small action can have a ripple effect that you will never know about.  Which can cause a chain reaction from helping that one person to helping a village, city, country or nation.  All because you stepped out in faith. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Jonah 4:6

v. 6 "Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine."

Many of us rely on the comfort of our surroundings, if there is a massive change then our emotions will be on a roller coaster until we adjust to our new situation.  Where ever you go you will hear people complain that it's too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, too desolate or too crowded, too boring or too busy.  I know that these are general topics that people talk about, but when we become affected by them and it rules us then it goes beyond polite conversation.  I am guilty of being an emotional roller coaster rider.  Feelings have too much of an influence on how I behave.  This is one of the many things I need to work on.  In one moment we can be so happy and it only takes a phone call to devastate our hearts.  Let's all try to stay on level ground even when all round us there are steep mountains and treacherous craters.

"The Hebrew noun translated "calamity" in 4:2 is the same word translated "discomfort" in 4:6."  Priscilla Shirer  God might have allowed Jonah to experience some of the distress that He withheld from Nineveh.  Jonah is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible.  At first he ran away then when he did obey, he was just going through the motions.  Think of the miracle of being swallowed by a fish for a few days then being spit up on land.  This man was a man of God and he was a rule follower so when God asked him something that was outside his rule book he resisted even though he knew he should follow what God had commanded him to do.

We should be comfortable in God, not what is going on all around us.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Jonah 4:5

v. 5 "Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city.  There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city."

I can picture this man, stomping out of the city and muttering to himself how he had been wronged by this mission from God.  Thinking that God didn't understand why he was so angry.  Jonah went to the east of the city.  In many situations in the Bible it wasn't such a good idea to go to the east.  Cain went to live east of Eden after killing his brother and the people moved east to build the Tower of Babel.  When the Bible was written it would have been in Hebrew, which reads right to left (east to west).  The sun rises from the east and sets in the west so maybe that is how they saw time.  So going to the east could represent going to the past or away from your present situation.  For us this could mean that when we continue to dwell in the past, in our sinful nature, we give up everything God wants to give us.  When we are facing the past what is in the rear view mirror will never show the future, but when we face ahead everything in the rear view mirror will start to get smaller and smaller until we can't see our old nature any more.

Instead of going home since his mission was over, Jonah decided to stake out a spot in the distance and wait.  Jonah was still in defiance of God here.  Do you think he was waiting to tell God, I told you so?  Maybe, he seemed determined to see these people destroyed while he watched with eagerness.  I know what it is to be Jonah.  I have been stubborn against things that God has asked me to do or I wanted to do them in my timing, not His.  When we don't get our way, we often will sit right down and have ourselves a temper tantrum.  Just like a child who will sit down in the middle of a store and cry, we dig our heels in the dirt and refuse to move.

I think Jonah made a shelter while he waited so he could see Nineveh be destroyed.  We often will have no problem pulling up a seat and being comfortable in someone else's discomfort or destruction.  This book shows us that God is gracious to those we think are unworthy and to check our heart's for any unwillingness to fully turn everything over to Him.  It does not matter if we agree with what God is asking us to do, He wants our obedience and to give ourselves over completely to Him.
When we become Christians we say, God I want your will for my life.  We don't have a clue what we are asking Him to do at first.  Do we really mean it?  What happens when our plans get derailed?  What happens when we don't like; what God is asking us to do, what He is asking us to say, where He is asking us to go, what or who He is asking us to give up.  This is where due to the pressure, we will show our faith and put it into practice or we will fall away and say I can't do this.  These moments will define our life now and in the future and direct our path until out last day on earth.