Delighting in Deliverance

Today, we go all in for God’s amazing love. (Jonah 1) Have you felt like God set you up for success, only it wasn’t what you wanted? I mean you wanted success just not the type or place of success that He was sharing. I know, right? Success implies that we want what is about to happen, but sometimes our past can just get in the way. Is there anything in your life that you have struggled with and had a hard time getting over? Well, that is precisely Jonah’s story. Jonah sees his ministry as his mortal enemy, and it is hard to minister to those you hate. 

Remember, God calls a prophet to proclaim, thus saith the Lord. They are married to the message like Hosea, and often they struggle with proclamation or its process. Ezekiel didn’t like his cooking fuel while lying on his sides for 430 days, and neither did Jeremiah want to buy a field when everybody else was selling. Well, Jonah is no different. 

Psalm 75:6-7~For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one And exalts another. (KJV) That is precisely what is taking place in Jonah. Israel has sinned and God is about to rehabilitate them using Assyria. God was raising up the Assyrians and their capital city, Nineveh, thus, God taps Jonah for a divine mission. Ever been sent where you do not want to go, and have to talk to people you don’t want to talk to, about God? 

Jonah reveals our human nature while God demonstrates His steadfast lovingkindness and compassion remains constant. If you did not know, God is amazing! One reason He is so amazing because it is God’s desire for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9~The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV) This is precisely what Jonah fears will happen. What is that you fear will happen in your life or to those around you if you let God’s love flow freely? Let’s take a few moments in our quiet time to let God speak freely. Let’s ask God to share what we are missing out on in His marvelous plan for our lives. For it is when we are doing and being all that God has purposed for our lives that we experience the deepest joy and satisfaction. So, if we want to have the whelming tide of joy unspeakable and full of glory, then we are going to have to go all-in and let God’s love flow on, in, and through our lives. I know it sounds super easy and scary, and at the same time so hard, but when we let God have His way, we find that we will also be walking in His strength and power. Say, God, today, use me for Your glory, and as you do, give me your strength and wisdom to accomplish all you have planned for me in my life. You are going to be so great.


Jonah & the city

Happy flag day. I hope the flag you fly over your life is the banner of God. Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the minor prophets and the flag they fly for the Lord, how they speak to the nations with a major message and offer hope if the people will turn to God. They began with knowing God, then repentance, justice, and mercy. Each week we have taken a step forward in our faith, towards God. The process is a progression of spiritual growth. Keep in mind it  is often easier to look at Israel in the Old Testament as a person and not just a nation. Someone following God, who may be struggling in their faith. Truthfully, we have all struggled in our faith. So, God calls leaders to demonstrate a life of integrity, doing what is right even when nobody is looking. This is something our case study today struggles with.

Join me as we turn to the compassion of the Lord’s lovingkindness that extends to believers and not-yet-believers, alike. As we consider one whale of a tale. Jonah 4:2~Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (חֶסֶד ḥeseḏ)…(NKJ) 

What do you know about lovingkindness? It is one of my favorite Hebrew words, and in fact, we had a cat named (חֶסֶד ḥeseḏ) it is God’s steadfast love, His steadfast lovingkindness, and ever-flowing mercy. So the prophet says to God, you flow is steadfast love. Do I have any recipients of God’s great, ever-flowing steadfast lovingkindness? Thank you Jesus for answering the call of the Father, and dying on a cross for you and me. 

Today, have you answered God’s call on your life? Is there something that God is asking of you that you need to do or say to someone? Why not take a few minutes and ask God, then just listen to what He has to say, and then respond. God has a plan for you and your life. (Jeremiah 29:11-12) The plan is for good and will be a resource for many. So, answer God’s call by saying yes today. And don’t worry, you’ve got this.



Consequences

How do you proclaim to others that they need to turn to God? (Malachi 2:6-7) When the prophet spoke of rebuke and judgment he was admonishing leaders who had become ungodly. This then emphasized the need to be in a right relationship of fidelity with God. This is a positional discussion that is taking place, where God says sin has dislocated us from God, therefore, his spiritual flow in our lives has been thwarted. Have you ever dislocated something? I have done it to a number of my fingers, making them crooked. When we dislocate a joint, we force the bone from its normal position. This painful injury temporarily deforms and immobilizes your joint. It will be unsteady and swell and as time advances we will be unable to move it. Some dislocations left untreated will cause strain or tears in the surrounding muscles, nerves, and tendons. Left untreated some will cause blood loss and even death to the tissue.

Our world is dislocated. God created it and every person in it to have a functioning role. These are the good things he has planned for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) This is why having good godly leadership is so very important for the people of our world, for us, and for those not yet believers. When we walk in the way of righteousness, we provide a practical example of Jesus to people around us and we function correctly as righteous priests of God, on behalf of Jesus Christ. 

Malachi 2:6-7~True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. (ESV) God wants His priest to do the work of the ministry by living lives of integrity, listening to Him, and sharing His message of hope by proclaiming the truth. Paul writes we are to be examples to our world. 1 Corinthians 11:1~ Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIV) Do you find those words difficult, feeling unworthy? Of course, we all do. 

That typically means we have a healthy fear of God in our lives. Whew, that takes a load off, doesn’t it? When we possess a healthy fear of God that is at work in us, we hear the Lord reminding us to be a righteous believer who walks out our faith daily in a sin-cursed and fallen world. Again, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:16~Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (NIV) As you head out into the wide world about you today, live a life worthy of your calling in Christ. Be praying for our leaders and leading others to Jesus. Be a great example of Jesus Christ wherever you go.