By thiseveryonewill know that you are my disciples,if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Loving is sometimes a hard task and a most difficult command from our Savior, yet He never makes one command without promising His love and His power to guide and pull us through. We were made for relationship. The entire bible points us to the love of God in Christ Jesus. When we read the bible with a heart of willingness to see and to learn the love of God we become better able to share His love with someone else. In doing so we become doers of His word. We will find that His word becomes alive to us when we become more than hearers, seeking to make disciples rather than just be one.
Love can lead us into tricky and vulnerable places but when we hold on to God we also can say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Love is never easy and yet it never fails and is always beautiful. We can learn many things from one another and although it can feel like we are shoved into it by God we must remember dear brothers and sisters that He loved us so much that He paid the price for us with His very blood. Our appreciation and true worship is found when we love others. After all that’s how the world will know that we are His disciples.
So who can you love today? Accept the shove, engage in the love, and He will be pleased. When facing difficulty in loving someone drop down to your knees recalling to mind your dependency on Him. The world needs you and you were made for a purpose. So encourage, uplift, and persist in loving others.
“Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Shove me into love
Help me to love Lord as You do,
And I will be Yours always,
Just show me what to do
People out there are crying
As people close to them are dying
Others are sick and wounded
Water beds made, from, flooded tears
People crippled in pain
Minds, tormenting them, throughout the years
So many ask where are You, in all this?
So many seek for answers
Lord they have a need to know, where You are in all of it.
But I have seen Your beauty in the radiance of the sun
I have felt Your peace invade me, when I was on the run
My struggles are a threshold, that You pull me through
So even in the thick of it, all I see is You
Lord if I can feel Your eyes from heaven, looking down on me
Please help me feel Your love and share it,
So others might be free
Lord I’m certain You have saved me, so I might come to look, more and more like You
But Father if that’s true and I believe it, I need Your help, please
Show me what to do
Shove me into love Lord
Until it hurts my arms, with every hug
Shove me into love Lord
As in love, You drained out,
Your very blood
You say I can do faith, I can do prophecy, but all is nothing without love
Prior to my becoming a Christian I was a love sick puppy chasing after love in all of the wrong places. The theme of my life was a repetition on my tongue and in mind, “I will die for love.” Perhaps you have never voiced your yearning quite as I did but we are all searching for love in someone or something.
The theme of my life is still very much the same, only now the meaning is different. I have learned that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) and I now know that the maker of the heaven and the earth loved me so much that He sent His Only Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins. How awesome is that? Someone died for me so much that He didn’t allow me to die in His place but took the punishment I deserved before a Holy God and placed it upon Himself! So today my “I would die for love.” translates to “I would die for God.” because of His having loved me so much, because of His dying for me, because of my belief in what He did 2,000 years ago on the cross. I love Him because He first loved me (1 John 4:19). Oh how sweet it is to know Him. Amen.
“And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Lord we thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Only begotten Son Jesus Christ to submit to the punishment and to pay the penalty for our sins. We thank You for loving us so much that even while we were rebellious against You, You chose to make a way to restore our relationship with You once and for all time. Lord I will die daily for You and if it comes to it for me to die one day forever for my faith I would do so. Lord help me to be able and ready to die daily for You and to pick up my cross and follow You knowing that as I do I am not left alone for You are always with me. This life is a struggle Lord and You never promised that it would be easy but You did make the promise that You would be with me always even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Thank You Lord for all the times that You have proven yourself so faithful. Lord I want to know You better this day, teach me Your way, show me Your Salvation, and lead me on the way everlasting. In Jesus name. Amen.
Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”
Resting in the Lord and allowing Him to do His will, His work, His way is freedom. In it there is peace, joy, beauty, and life everlasting through every trial and tribulation. We can war and we can choose to rebel against Him but when we do we rage in hellfire instead of carrying peace to heaven. Afflictions and educating from the Lord are for our good. Choosing to praise Him and to humble ourselves before Him in the beginning, in the midst of, and assuredly at the closing of them honors and glorifies God. In Christ our battles are won in adversity when we abide in and rely on Him. Christ is the Only way. When we truly rest in Him we find, there is no better way. May Your lovingkindness be upon us Lord in proportion as we have hoped in You (Psalm 33:22). Amen.
Breaking and breakthrough happen when we choose to allow the Lord to have His way in us. He will be seen in us when we give Him full reign and full power to take over us and to take on our lives. This is what resting in Him means. This is why His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). We were never meant to carry our loads alone. The glory of the Lord and the filling of His Spirit are found when we let go. May we let go and allow God today honoring Him in glory and in praise by supplication and with thanksgiving trusting in His promise that He is with us all the way. Amen.
When we go into our prayer closet without expectation or hesitation but by prayer invite the Holy Spirit to lead us, our soul is refreshed, joy is restored, peace surely comes, we confess when we are convicted, we glory in forgiveness, and the Lords power and presence become our own to share. When once there was dryness now we have struck His promise of living water (John 7:37-39); there are streams in the desert (Isaiah 43:19). Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Amen.
We have a lot we can learn from the story of Jonah in the Book named after him in the Word of God. At first read we can see the story as one about disobedience to God and it’s result and the value of Gods mercy and love extending outwards to His children. However I feel that if we look deeper into the book there is so much more that it can teach us about disobedience yes, but also the tempest that follows, depression and discouragement, Salvation of the lost, being pulled out of a calling on one’s life by God’s means, prayingfor the future grace of God is akin to our deliverance, combustible power, and the lesson at the end of it all. Today I want us to take time to look at all of these individually and open our hearts and minds to the lessons we can learn through God from Jonah the Hebrew prophet.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3
Immediately in the book of Jonah we see a prophet who is unlike many of the others in the Bible. Jonah is told by the Lord God to go to the Assyrians and prophesy against their wickedness and Jonah like doesn’t even acknowledge God. He turns to go completely in the other direction, to get as far away as he can from God, from the call God has made on His life, and from the Assyrians in Ninevah who were a brutal enemy of the Israelites. We also learn just from these first few verses about pride, in that Jonah wasn’t thinking about the salvation of the lost but rather about himself and his own people who he felt more worthy and deserving of redemption.
I wonder how many of us at times feel this way and run away from the calling of God on our lives? How many times are we holding on so tightly to God being “our” God and refuse to share His love with others? I know for myself that there have been moments in my life when I have been a Jonah. There are places in my life where I need the Lord to shine His light so that I can catch myself by His grace and come to a place of obedience: no matter who it is that I am called to face, no matter what they have done in their lives, or who they are or who they have been to me and to others. As we will see the grace of God extends to the furthest reaches of the world and we are called like Jonah to be just as gracious and merciful. My prayer is that we can learn from Jonah that the call of God on our lives is a privilege and not a punishment.
We find a little later on in the book of Jonah that disobedience to God also tears down our ministry by making a hypocrite of us. When how we are living isn’t a demonstration of who we are believing in isn’t that what we become? In Jonah’s case he was letting the sailors know that he was a Hebrew who feared the One true God of Israel and yet his running away from God… well what do you think? Did it show his fear of the Lord or not? How are you responding to God today?
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9)
4 “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.” (Jonah 1:4-5)
How many of us have disobeyed God and found out that things don’t go so well after that? I certainly have and although I have learned by experience and by the Word that “the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:6) it still is a bumpy ride that isn’t so much fun. How many of you are with me?
The disobedience of Jonah caused a disruption in his life and a literal storm so violent that it “threatened” to break up the ship that he was in and yet notice the Lord kept the ship from breaking. Isn’t that the way the Lord tenderly deals with us? Yet the first ones that the tempest effected was the people around Jonah because they were the first ones to witness the tempest for themselves. We learn here that what we do effects others around us and that although God can work it for good it’s important that we not run off with the idea and think it doesn’t matter as long as people get saved in the end or as long as no one is hurt for long. In later verses when the sailors cast lots and find out that Jonah is the reason that the storm has come upon them they begin to question him,
“they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)” (Jonah 1:10)
The bottom line is that when we disobey God the boat is rocked and the people around us are negatively impacted. Think about it… And yet we are reminded because of who God is,
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;” (2 Corinthians 4:8)
May we fear God enough to do His will and be obedient expediently when the time comes. In Jesus name. Amen.
DEPRESSION & DISCOURAGEMENT:
In choosing to disobey God discouragement, despair, and depression has the tendency to creep in and overwhelm us. We are brought low and sleep and sluggishness are manifested in our distress. Although we try to escape we soon learn as Jonah did that God is truly with us wherever we go and there is nowhere we can go to flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7).
“But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.” (Jonah 1:5)
SALVATION OF THE LOST
Although Jonah ran away from the Lord, God was still about His merciful work to save the lost. How many of you know that God still carries out the plans that He has set out to do? The Lord can convert others through the transformation they can see in us by God’s mercy, love, grace, and in the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Yet in Jonah’s case we see that Salvation can also be brought about by the hand of Gods powerful punishment upon us. I don’t know about you but I would much rather the former.
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.” (Jonah 1:12-15)
PULLED OUT OF THE PICTURE
As those who know the story of Jonah are most familiar with know, for a time Jonah was pulled out of the picture in a magnificent way: he was swallowed up by a large fish that the Lord had prepared for him.
17 “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)
God when He sees our disobedience to Him will remove us for a time by a means that He appoints, in order to get us where we need to be for His will and His good purpose to be carried out. It’s important to take note that God prepares the punishment and the affliction so we may arise to the test. It’s also major that we take in that Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish before he prayed to God for deliverance. Too often we have the tendency to get overwhelmed and lost in the pit of despair and depression that it takes us much longer to draw near to God. God longs to extend His hand out for deliverance and pities his children with His grieving patience, waiting for them to repent and to draw near. I for one have learned my lesson and yet the Lord gives me so much more opportunities to learn. Haven’t you heard? It’s up to us how long we remain we stuck, but the good news is that when we come to God we are pulled quickly out of the pit as Jonah was. All thanks be to God!
PRAYER FOR FUTURE GRACE= DELIVERANCE
While Jonah is in the belly of the fish he prays a prayer for deliverance that I believe we can all learn from. I am not going to include it in it’s entirety here but we can see the trust and the thanks in advance for what Jonah believed in the Lord to do for him. Jonah knew that God is a merciful and forgiving God and so he prays a prayer for the Lords grace upon him in advance.
““I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me;” (Jonah 2:2)
At the end of the prayer Jonah praises the Lord for His Salvation and is released. We can learn a lot about prayer through Jonah. Not only its power but also how it pleases God for us to pray. God longs for us to trust in Him and to see that His children are expecting Him to be gracious to them knowing that He is a loving and gracious God. Hebrews 11:6 says,
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Many times we pray from a place of distress and faithlessness but Jonah prays from a place of deep trust in the Lord. How sweet this must be to God. Although Jonah disobeyed God we can see that he had trust in God to be good to him and to his people. The thing is though that he was holding onto God too tightly and limiting His power to save, to only a selected few. How about you?
3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:1-5)
Here we see that after all this the Lord did not forget what He had called Jonah to do; His plan was still in effect. God has a purpose for our lives and,
“it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
Jonah obeys the Lord immediately this time when he is called and we see a change in his mannerisms as well. Where once we saw a hesitant Jonah now we see him filled with such earnestness that a travel that instead of taking the three days to travel to Nineveh he only waited one day before preaching the message of God and his voice carried over to them all. Wow! How great is the power of our God when we choose to obey what He asks us to do!
Earlier in the book of Jonah the sailors are asking him tons of questions and it takes some convincing for them to throw Jonah overboard so that the tempest would recede and they would trust in the Lord. This time around with the power of God behind him, it takes only one sentence for the Assyrians to repent of their sins and turn to the One true God. Without the power of God behind us all of our actions are weak and self centered but when we stand with God and do what He asks of us He makes certain we know where true power is found. How awesome is our God for not leaving us on our own once the call is made!
LESSONS AFTER ALL
At the end of the book of Jonah, Jonah gets angry at the Lord for saving the Assyrians and we are back at square one again only this time we get a better understanding of why Jonah was disobedient to God in the first place, and considered himself in the right to be. Although God had delivered Jonah from the belly of the fish he still didn’t want the Assyrians to be saved. Stubborn people as we can be it takes us a lot of time to learn doesn’t it? Yet God is still so patient and longsuffering with us.
Jonah is back to feeling discouraged and even gets to the point of suicide in wanting to die rather than face what the Lord has done for the Assyrians. God sends a plant to provide shade for him until a worm eats the plant until it withers and dies. Jonah is thankful for the plant and when it is gone he wishes for death again.
The thing is that when we disobey God we can lose sight, deny who God is, want nothing to do with Him, and even turn ourselves over to worshipping idols. Jonah was so thankful for the plant that He was unwilling to praise God for His deliverance, for His Salvation, and even for the plant that God had given to him for shade. God never leaves us where we are and this time is no different.
9 “But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:9-11)
God is merciful and gracious and this question that He leaves us with is for all of us today. Should God not have pity for who He wishes to have pity on and be merciful to those He wishes to be merciful towards? Today are you being disobedient to God by not loving Gods children? Are you being disobedient to God by holding a grudge against someone and not forgiving them? Perhaps you are too stubborn or too “busy” to seek the Lords will and then do it. I have been there before my friend; trust me we all have. When in a state of disobedience remember Jonah and the Word of God,
“For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15)
When we read the Word of God He speaks to us and He reaches us so that we can in turn reach someone else. God offers us a fragment of heaven through His written Word, this fragment of heaven that He gives us overflows in worship to the great Giver until we just have to share it with someone else. When we do, the hope is that that person will go on to share the love and the joy that we have been given with someone else, and on, and on, and on.
So many times we wonder what heaven will be like. The bible gives us hints of it’s beauty, glory, and majestic splendor, and yet how often do we ask ourselves how we can replicate heaven here on earth? When we pass on the incomplete picture of heaven that the good Lord shares with us here and it is then shared with others, the fragment of heaven that God shares with us grows and He is honored and glorified. A more complete albeit imperfect picture of heaven is then manifested here on earth. So what will that picture of heaven look like here on earth from God’s standpoint? A portion of the pure, complete, perfect, and everlasting worship of the Lord, love for Him, and enjoyable and peaceful love for others here on earth. For what is heaven but the perfect and eternal worship of God and the perfect and pure, love for one another?
Today everyone is struggling and everywhere it seems as Jesus has said, that the love of others is growing cold (Matthew 24:12). Believers of Christ have the gifting of being blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. While the world is in turmoil let us abide in the love of God so that we can be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. When we are strong in the Lord we are able to see His goodness even when the circumstances around us look dim. Once we do we are then able to share His light with those in the world whose vision is blinded, by the darkness around them.
Today let us remember when we see someone struggling,
“The Lord reaches me so He can reach someone else.”
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
“Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and robbery and self-indulgence (unrestrained greed). You [spiritually] blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the plate [examine and change your inner self to conform to God’s precepts], so that the outside [your public life and deeds] may be clean also.
“Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 So you, also, outwardly seem to be just and upright to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28 AMP)
When we wash our cups and plates after dinner is it not true that we clean both the inside and the outside? Jesus very much cares how we prioritize cleaning up our hearts and our lives when we walk with Him too. In these verses He instructs the Pharisees to lay down their religious traditions, done in the sight of men for praise, and get their hearts right with God. This is so important to Jesus that He even goes as far as to call the Pharisees “hypocrites!” for their desire to please men rather than the God that they claimed to serve.
I don’t know about you but in my walk with Christ at times I too can walk the walk of the Pharisee, trying to measure up and fit into the mold of what it “looks like” to be a Christian. The truth is when we do this our hearts are far from God, as He is the Only One we need to be seeking to please. When we attempt to measure up to anyone else’s standards besides God’s chances are that worry, anxiety, and doubt start creeping in; states of mind where faith in God can’t live. When do things so that other people can se how “holy” and “righteous” we are then we lose sight of God as pride and the self-righteousness of the Pharisees sets in and we get lost in ego. So today let’s stop to ask ourselves in any given moment am I allowing God to clean up the inside of my cup and my plate or am I just dusting off the outside? Are my actions just right before men? Or is my heart right with God?