Stubborn

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.(Jonah 2:1)

The people of Nineveh were some of the most feared of ancient times.  If the Assyrians didn’t skin their conquests alive, they would drag them off to foreign lands to serve foreign gods.  To the godly, Jewish person, these people were simply obnoxious. Yet the God of Israel had hope that they might respond to His compassion and turn around if someone would simply share God’s message. God had just the man for the job, a prophet named Jonah.  So God said “Go”, but Jonah said “No”.

Jonah was so repulsed by the Assyrians that he got on board a ship heading in the opposite direction. Initially, Jonah thought he escaped God’s call but instead found himself in the belly of a fish. I would think that most people would be crying out to God the moment they were being tossed overboard, but not Jonah.  Jonah was a man of principle.  His “no” meant“no”.  So Jonah sat in the belly of that fish for THREE DAYS.  That’s what I call stubborn.

Have you been stewing in some fish’s belly, fighting the call that God has on your life? Jonah finally softened up and cried to God for help, just like the Ninevites would do. God can even use the stubborn, if they just turn around.

The Kindness of a Papa

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant:

Hosea in some respects shows the extreme lengths to which God will go to redeem his children. The prophet Hosea was tried and tested unlike any other prophet. If you think your situation is tough, take a glance at Hosea’s marriage. God called him to marry, love and care for a prostitute. God even called Hosea to love her and buy her back after she was unfaithful to him. That is how much God LOVES us!!

 God reminds us of His kindness in Hosea 11 when He speaks of Ephraim the way one gently speaks of a child. “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:3-4

God uses an illustration that we can relate to, the picture of a father tenderly caring for his young son. God loves us enough to stoop down and gently feed us, the way that a good papa would gently feed his infant child.

For me this is a beautiful reminder that God meets us where we are, brings us along, grows us up, and loves us even when it’s tough! Let God be a papa to you today, for He is the BEST papa anyone can have!!

Boring

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4)

I imagine that for some of us attention deficit folks the idea that heaven is all about being with God just seems a bit boring.  And yet, this is at the core of what heaven is all about.  Yes, heaven is a place where we have new bodies, all knowledge, and the streets are paved with gold.  Yet, all that dims compared to the amazing fact that we will be with God.  Forever.

If that still sounds just a bit boring to you, may I suggest something?  God’s heart is not only that we will spend the future with Him, but He very much wants to be a part of our life here and now. He is the One who wants to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death.  He is the One who wants to take you to the Rock that is higher than you.  He is the One who longs to be your strength and shield.  He is not only the awesome, majestic, powerful, Creator of the Universe, He is also the lover of your soul.  He knows you intimately and longs for you to know Him just as intimately.

If heaven sounds boring, might I suggest you make it your prayer today to know God better.  Tell Him you want to know more about Him.  Spend time with Him. Tell Him you wish to walk with Him.  You will find that heaven will be anything but boring.

The Wrath of God

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller:

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete” Rev 15:1

The author of the book of Hebrews says that, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The wrath of God is not a topic we like to spend a lot of time talking about.

Most of us are uncomfortable with the idea of God’s wrath because it can be difficult to reconcile with our idea of Love. First, we must remember that God’s wrath is not the same as our wrath. The writer of James tells us that, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” God’s wrath is rooted in His love. He would not be loving if He did not punish sin.

Second, we see that God’s wrath serves a purpose. The idea here in Revelation 15 is that His wrath will fulfill its intended design. Satan and his kingdom will be defeated. Evil will be punished.

Lastly, we must not forget that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for us, so that we could drink the cup of God’s grace. God’s wrath is real, it is just, and it is coming. We must not water down this truth. The blood of Jesus allows God’s wrath to pass over us a Christians. Paul says, Christians are not appointed unto wrath. This should both encourage us and inspire us to share the gospel this week!

Prayer Power

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5)

The book of Hebrews has taught us that the things God commanded Moses to make and do in the Tabernacle were actually copies of what happens in heaven.

You see this at work in the book of Revelation, where John has been caught up into heaven and is transported to the time of the end.  John sees the real golden altar of incense and watches as an angel stands at the altar and offers up incense, along with the prayers of the saints.  This was the same ritual that took place every day in the Tabernacle and the Temple.

As the daily ritual is mirrored in heaven, something powerful takes place as fire from that altar is thrown to the earth and the events of the Great Tribulation are intensified.  What were those “prayers of the saints” that brought about such a response?  It might be that simple prayer of Jesus, “Thy kingdom come”.  Or perhaps one of David’s prayers, “How long O Lord?”  Whatever the prayers were, they brought about big things, ultimately leading to Jesus’ return. So, what are you praying for?  I wonder if we realize just how powerful our prayers are before God.

Divine Romance

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller:

“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” — Eze 16:8

At the heart of each of us is this desire to be loved. Whether from our family or friends, we all long to be loved.

Ezekiel begins this chapter with an allegory of a love story. A King who sees in his bride much more than she could have ever been.

As the story zooms out, we realize it is God speaking of His covenant relationship with His people. The story ends tragically, but it does not change the beautiful way in which Ezekiel describes God’s love for His bride.

We often struggle with our view of ourselves. The enemy constantly highlights our insecurities. Have you stopped today to see yourself in the light of God’s love? Have you considered how deeply loved you are by the great I AM?

No matter how unlovable you may feel, it does not change the truth of how passionate God’s love is for you right now. You have access to the greatest source and supply of love in the universe. How will you respond to this love? With religion – acts of duty devoid of connection? Or relationship – an intimate journey that will satisfy your soul?

No Darkness

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

“What is God doing to me?” Have you ever asked a question like that? Perhaps you are going through a rough patch and you don’t understand.  Perhaps someone has betrayed you, and you are not only hurt, but you begin to wonder if even God has betrayed you.  Maybe you start to wonder if God hasn’t laid some grand cosmic trap to catch you and torment you.

Darth Vader may have quipped about the “power of the dark side” but let me say this clearly:  There is no “dark side” with God.  He has no secret motives.  He is not out to destroy you.  He has not deceived you.  He is not trying to take advantage of you.

Sometimes we get confused when someone we have trusted betrays us.  If it happens more than once, we can begin to wonder if it’s safe to trust anyone.  My friend, people are flawed and may at times disappoint you, but don’t confuse the people around you with God.

God has clearly shown us that He is on our side.  When He sent His only Son to die on a cross, He was showing the measure of His love for us. We may not understand what happens around us, but we can know for sure that He is for us.  He loves you like no other.

Thy Will be Done

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men–. (1Pe 2:15)

“How do I know if it is God’s will?” This may be one of the most asked questions I receive as a Pastor.  Here Peter says very clearly, “this is the will of God.” Peter is making a case for relational evangelism. He is telling us that looking through the lens of the Gospel in every relationship is an opportunity for evangelism!

Peter challenges us to see if we are living in such a way that points to Jesus! Peter mentions submission to government – not because the government is supreme but because Jesus is! Peter is saying our focus is not on politics but people! Loving Jesus should influence our engagement in society. Peter is applying Jesus’ principle of being salt and light!

Peter takes it a step further and speaks about our witness at work. Do people see Jesus in my work ethic? How do I handle difficult people and difficult situations? Do I see them as an opportunity to share the light and love of Jesus?

Peter calls every believer to a life “on mission”. He calls us to biblical submission. May we surrender our will to His words and live in the light of Jesus’ love and humility this week!

A Parent’s Reasons

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

“I don’t want to eat my vegetables! I don’t want to do my homework!” If you’re a parent, you have (or will) hear comments like this from time to time.  The issues might not be about vegetables or homework, but there will be something that doesn’t strike the child as “fair”.  Of course, those complaints may even be followed with that old one, “You don’t love me!” The wise parent might lower their head and cringe, but they soldier on, and the child continues to be guided in the direction that’s best for them, even if they don’t see it yet.

The nation of Judah was in the middle of the biggest “time out” ever.  The entire nation would eventually be moved to Babylon where they would sit for seventy years, learning to change their evil ways, and developing a new heart for God.  Of course, some of them may have thought that God had abandoned them.  Some may have thought that God no longer loved them.  It wasn’t true.  God loves His people. Loving parents know that difficult times might be necessary for a child’s maturity.  God’s aim isn’t to destroy us but to help us.  He has good plans.  There is hope.  Don’t despair.

Anchor

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, (Hebrews 6:19)

Life can be hard at times.  Sometimes it seems that we’re surrounded by storms that just get more and more difficult.  Almost like a hurricane.  Ancient mariners would throw out their anchors to keep them from being blown off course.

What are your anchors in life?  What do you rely on to keep you on course?

The writer of Hebrews points to our hope in Jesus as the best of anchors.  When everything around us is going crazy, we might begin to wonder how things will turn out.  Yet, when our hope is in Jesus, we actually know the end of the story.  The story of our life ends with Jesus.  Heaven is a pretty great “happy ending” in my eyes.  Heaven is “behind the veil”.  Heaven is being in God’s presence.  Heaven is a sure thing when we have come to trust in Jesus.

Again, I would ask: What are your anchors in life?  What are you counting on to get you through?  Put your hope and trust in the One who gave His life for you.  Put your hope in the One who conquered death and rose from the grave.  Put your hope in the One with whom all things are possible.  You can ride out this storm.