"And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17, ESV)
Have you heard the phrase, "Take another lap around the mountain." It is a phrase spoken in reference to not learning a lesson and therefore having to go around the mountain again. Israel kind of went through that at Mount Sinai. They took another lap around the mountain, or through the desert, when they did not learn the lesson.
God has a way of fixing 'fixes' so that we grow in Him. He does not do this out of anger or spite. He does it out of His love for us. Jonah experienced this in His life. He is a prophet of God who does not want to prophesy to a people he hates. Since God can't have prophets with that kind of heart, God appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah. Four times we find in the book of Jonah God 'appointing.' He appointed a fish, gourd, worm, and a scorching wind all for Jonah. God 'set things up' so that he could get to the heart of Jonah.
Jonah was offended at God's mercy towards Nineveh. God took things in the natural, and arranged for them to be in the right place at the right time, to be an object lesson to Jonah. We don't know if Jonah ever learned his lesson, but we, the reader, know that God is often merciful to people we may think do not deserve it.
"Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?" (2 Chronicles 1:10, ESV)
How would you answer God if He were to ask you, "What shall I give you?" Solomon was asked that question, and it appears he did not hesitate to answer. He asked for wisdom and knowledge that he might lead the nation of Israel, God's people. God promised Solomon wisdom and knowledge to lead Israel and granted him riches, possessions, and honor! That was a good answer!
Wisdom seems to be one of the least sought-after things of our time. Yet it is one of the most valuable things a person can acquire. James 1:5 says, “if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously.” James is telling us that God wants to do this. He wants us to have wisdom. Wisdom will empower us to walk in righteousness by adopting God's ways.
Life is constantly changing, and life is full of constantly changing variables. Because of this, we need wisdom to know how to respond to God and to others. We need wisdom in leading our children. We need wisdom in business dealings. Wisdom is the ability to think and react as God would in an ever-changing environment. Wisdom, as we see in Scripture, can save us from much heartache if adhered to. Solomon got it right; wisdom is way more valuable than riches. His answer to God's question is the answer of the ages, wisdom!
"Then King David went in and sat before the Lord..." (1 Ch 17:16 ESV)
So many times, I have done what David did. I went into my secret place and just sat before the Lord. Such a beautiful posture that David takes before the Lord. Such a beautiful place to find rest in. He knew the value of sitting with God. It is a regal picture of the king who knows where his help comes from. It is a powerful picture of David's humility. He knew his place, and he knew he did not deserve it. He was king because God chose him to be king.
In our busy world, many have forgotten the art of 'going in' and 'sitting' before the Lord. Or we rush in to give God our gimme list and run out, hoping He doesn't take long. David and Martha's sister, Mary, (Lk 10:42) knew the value of sitting at the feet of the One who knows all things and whose love and acceptance were life-giving.
What is it like for you to sit at the feet of the Lord? Has it been a while since you were just quiet before Him with no agenda? Maybe it is time for you to go in and sit before the Lord. In that place, David found comfort. In that place, David found answers. In that place, David discovered his relationship with God grew more intimate. What value can be placed on going in and sitting before the Lord
"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!" (1 Chronicles 16:11, ESV)
What a beautiful exhortation in David's Song of Thanks. Knowing that David is such a worshipper and seeker of God, it is no surprise that that which is in his heart would also be in his song. David's lyrics in verse 11 name two things to seek, and he uses two different words translated as seek.
The first 'seek' means to look for or to search after, but the word used also means to ‘seek with care’. This seeking is to be done carefully so as not to miss it. If you lose something of great importance, you look for it carefully so you do not overlook it. In our verse, the second 'seek' means to seek as in pursue, ask, visit, and choose. It would be as a young man who is seeking a date. He may pursue the girl he desires, but he will have to ask her out at some point. This seeking is a choice of the heart.
To find the strength of God, we have to look for it carefully as one would look for a treasure hidden in a field. David is saying, "Look for the God who prevails!" The other thing that David encourages us to sing about is seeking His presence. Pursue God's presence! Ask for God's presence! He loves it when we seek Him.
David writes a great song for those who love to worship God and for those who desire to become better worshippers. Seek Him continually, and you will find Him!
"Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there." (2 Kings 4:10, ESV)
I have said for a long time, "The Word works for those who work the Word!" But it only works for those who take the time and effort to make room for the word of God in their lives. This wealthy woman and her husband often fed the prophet Elisha as he passed by their home. One day she gets a brilliant idea! She says to her husband, let's build an extra room on our roof for the prophet of God. He can have a bed, a chair, a table, and a lamp.
Given the day's culture, this would be a lovely place to stay while traveling. It would be one that you would make plans to go to if traveling. The prophet carries the Word of the Lord and the authority of the Lord. By building this room, this woman was making room not just for the prophet of God. She was making room for the Word of God to abide in her home.
Does the Word of the Lord have a resting place in your heart? Have you created a storeroom in your heart for the Word of God? Does the Word of the Lord desire to come to your life, home, and marriage? If not, it is time to make room for the Word to abide in you!
"There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah." (1 Kings 17:16, NLT)
The Word of the Lord to the widow, through the prophet Elijah, was there will always be flour and oil left in your container. It is one thing to hear the Word of the Lord; it is another to believe it. This woman was gathering sticks for a fire to cook her, and her son’s, last meal. She had a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil; they would eat a small meal and die, according to the widow's perspective.
Elijah had God's perspective. And God had another plan! He was going to save Elijah and the widow and her son. It would require faith on the widow's part. Faith is always necessary to reach the promises of God. There is no other way to access what God has promised than faith. Some would take offense to God's approach to saving this woman and her son. Why must she give the man of God her and her son's last meal? Because her response to Elijah's word is where God calls her to trust in Him. God could have just prophesied to her and let it go, but she would have had no investment in her miracle. Her response to feeding the prophet first was faith in action!
Her faith in God's promise secured her and her son's future. There will always be enough if you trust Him!
May 24, 2023: What Do You See?
"... "Jeremiah, what do you see?" I said, "I see an almond branch." Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it." (Jeremiah 1:11–12, ESV)
God seems always to be asking questions. "Jeremiah, what do you see?” “Adam, where are you?” “Moses, what is that in your hand?” To the disciples, “Who do you say I am?" We should not fear when God asks questions of us. Most of the time, He asks questions because He is leading us somewhere or wants us to understand something. Because we know He is good, we know His questions will result in good things.
The questions that God asks always serve a purpose. For a God who knows everything, there would be no reason to ask a question if you did not have a purpose. For example, when God asks Adam, "Where are you?" He wants Adam to understand why he is hiding, draw him out of hiding, and reveal His mercy and grace to him.
A good teacher asks questions to help the student in the learning process. They are not to embarrass or put a student down but to lead the student to a place of understanding.
When God asks Jeremiah, "What do you see?" It is out of the context of relationship. Like a good Father, he is teaching His pupil 'seeing' to confirm what was seen. God is forcing Jeremiah to think and encouraging him with words of confirmation.
"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:4, ESV)
Jesus confronted the Pharisees with, "Out of the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks." He made an obvious point that was easy to understand. So easy, in fact, that He offended them with His comment. It was a religious spirit that caused them to be offended. Maybe that same unclean spirit refuses to leave so many Christians today because of the abundance in their hearts. I just can't picture Jesus saying, "O sh*t, Judas is betraying me. Or “D**n that was good.” I can't even hear Jesus, while eating with His disciples, talk about the 'frigging' heat. What is it that makes Christians want to swear?
Here is what I can tell you. There is still a part of them that wants to be conformed to the pattern of this world, so they refuse the Kingdom pattern of Christ. They refuse to renew their minds with the Word. It may also be that they have no conviction because they have not read our passage. Maybe they feel they must swear to be more relevant to the world. After all, that is a wide road, and we know where that leads.
Why not just clean up the heart, renew the mind, and put off the graves clothes you came out of? Why not be more like Jesus? Imagine that, Christians that both act and sound like Jesus! One other thing, thanksgiving is appropriate and desired, according to the Apostle Paul.
"put off your old self and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds" (Ephesians 4:23, ESV)
Many believers quickly jump on the spiritual warfare wagon and press the fight against the enemy! They bind, loose, take authority over, throw down, and decree, but none of it seems to work. With renewed vigor, they fast and pray still with no avail. Do you know anyone like that? Maybe it is you.
Maybe the victory God wants us to win is the one called renewing our minds. Rather than attacking a spirit of rejection, why not renew your mind with how accepted you are by the Father? Why not be convinced of God's amazing love towards you? Maybe the Father is not after the demon but after your broken heart, which a family member or former boss wounded. Perhaps it is not the demons that torment you but your own memories of betrayal that run so deep. You may never have authority over demonic powers until your heart is healed. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to heal the brokenhearted.” God wants you healed and filled with Jesus so that demons recognize Christ in you, the hope of glory, and cry out, "Have you come to torment us?
Absolute authority comes when you have taken off the 'grave clothes' of the past and put on Christ through renewing your mind. The demons who saw Jesus screamed because there was no wound or open doors inside Him. All He was filled with was Zoe life! Try renewing your mind and see how much more authority you will have.
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13–14, ESV)
There are two roads to eternity. One road leads to Zoe life, and the other road leads to destruction. The two routes lead to two destinations in opposite directions. Without saying it, Jesus set before us the choice of heaven or hell, eternal revival or eternal torment. The option is ours. But, He does tell us to choose to enter by the narrow gate because it leads to life.
One gate, the wide one, puts you on a wide road that has many people traveling upon it. Many people travel on it because it is easy to find, easy to travel on, and nearly effortless to follow. Why? Because you do not have to do a thing to find and get on it. You are basically born on it and never have to get off unless you choose to.
On the other hand, the narrow gate leads to a narrow way, which leads to Zoe life. It is hard to find because it is the only one that leads to the other destination—life. It is hard because the crowd is on the broad road; surely the crowd can't be wrong. It is difficult because it requires faith to travel upon it. But the good news is those who find it find life. Therefore choose the less traveled road to eternity.
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