Restore us again

Sometimes we have to lose the “Tude” (Jonah 3). When my kids were little, like most, there were certain words that were just plain difficult to say. For some, it was “ungions” instead of onions, or perhaps “sketti” rather than spaghetti. One such word was the “tude” I would hear daddy, sissy has the “tude.” It was a cry for the application of medicine. No one wants the “tude.” For a bad attitude can wreak havoc in a home. Does your attitude ever fall out of alignment and need to be adjusted. Some of us are a bit of a hard case, with a stone-like head that just struggles to get the message. It’s really reminiscent of Jonah’s own story. For after good money was literally thrown in the sea, he was swallowed up by a problem of his own making, only to stew him into his senses. 

Jonah 2:1~Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish. (ESV) Sometimes we just can’t win for all the losing. For this selected prophet was sent on a mission to share the message of hope which sounds great, right? Have you ever woke up and thought, Lord, will you use me today? I would love to lead someone to You. How’s about I walk across Milwaukee and say repent, and you send a revival to not just a city of 650,000 people, but to a nation. Again, that is Jonah and the story of his life. The deepest dream of all believers, to be utilized by God for something so great, only to have a bad “tude.” 

In the words of ~Deep Purple~ You got yourself a load of trouble now, You got yourself a bad deal, You…got a bad attitude. Jonah, who has been whitewashed in a prison of his own making, released on his own recognizance this angry minimalist who’s been so stingy with the message of hope, has his wafting palette of acidic emanations mixed with sweat cannot even sour the sweet aroma of salvation. His work done, plying proclamation to the masses, he parks himself on the bench of despair, brandishing a warm sunburnt glow, outside of a city steeping in revival. 

Where a prophet, so ungrateful, angry as crowded streets seek out to receive the grace of God whose mercy floods through the city’s streets like raging current sweeping away the sin or the repentant. Not just a small fledgling community of faith, this is a bustling city the size of Boston. People are crying out to the living God seeking His fantastic forgiveness. Yet for Jonah, it feels like Perverted Justice. Are you ready for revival? Are you seeking the Lord to change you and the course you’ve already charted for your life? For revival is about the betterment of the life we have as our whole lives are refocused Godward, our priorities are moved from misalignment as we turn to life everlasting life found in our first love. 

That is what the Lord told the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, you have left your first love. For those of us in the faith, we must continually reorient our lives Godward, towards God’s plan for us and His church. Like a true helmsman constantly adjusting our course of travel, that we might win some not-yet-believers to the Lord, through the message of hope. (1 Corinthians 9:22) Knowing that when they come to salvation, like all babies, they will have a need of changing some dirty diapers, for all babies make messes. Nineveh is a burgeoning faith and they could benefit from a former salty sea dog such as Jonah. However, Jonah is wiped out on the banks of despair. Not wanting revival. 

Do you want to witness revival? If so, then you are going to have to do things a little bit differently. Revival means that we realign our lives not with what is comfortable or oriented to our human desires, but rather the reorientation of our whole lives towards God. This means praying and asking God to work on, in, and through us in a way that He has purposed. It means letting go of our desires and ways and seeking His will and plan. It means we yield to Him and make Him the number one priority in our lives. Why not take a few moments and ask Go to help you begin reorienting your whole life in a way that meets His good, pleasing, and perfect will?



Perverted Justice

Today, we consider Perverted Justice. Justice is a two-sided coin with a reward for righteousness on one side and the punishment of sin on the other, and God is the judge. The psalmist says in 75:6-7 that He sets down one and raises up another. Before the Lord’s justice rolls into town, there are merciful opportunities to turn and change direction. (2 Chronicles 7:14) Yet it requires our humanity, acceptance, and following in fidelity, for the Lord our God brings justice and is not slow as some understand slowness as Apostle Pete reminds us in 2 Peter 3:9. 

Saint of God, know that when we are with God, He is with us, just as He told King Asa of Judah through His prophet Azariah in 2 Chronicles 15:1-2~The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said…Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him…but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. (ESV) Life has many warning signs all around our lives, and when we fail to read the well-lit signage marking the path the Lord has made, a failure to follow the illuminated arrows of direction, and to heed the flashing lights telling us to move over, BANG! 

Yes, God’s ever-flowing mercy is all about us. Like large highway signs beckoning us to avoid the impending judgment that always comes knocking when we live on the wrong side of the coin. In the New Testament we are called to live like Christ. Philippians 1:21~For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. (NLT) However, an unfortunate lapse in discernment, where poorly adjusted eyes miss the mark, the very definition of sin, and failure to read the signs of the times can leave us vomited out on a seemingly sundry beach. Wondering how it all went so wrong and then realizing there is so much left to do in such a short time. 

I would be willing to bet that the Lord has asked you to do something, in your service of Him, that may just not be easy. I want to encourage you to make today the day that you respond to God. First, say a prayer and ask the Lord to give you the time and opportunity to reach out to them and to help them be receptive. Then sow the seed that the Lord has laid on your heart. If He is asking you to do something, pray and ask for His favor and then do it when He opens the door. Don’t worry, let God be in control and He will work in the situation. What He asks of us is that we are humble and obedient. One waters, one sows, but it is God who gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9) Go be great!



F R E E

How do you respond to grace? (Jonah 4) For some, it seems to come so easy and natural, but still many have felt that some people were just unworthy of God’s grace. At times, I have, and that is precisely Jonah’s view for Israel’s archenemy of Assyria, but God has compassion in mind for them. Aren’t you glad the Lord has great compassion for humanity? When the Lord sends him as a prophet to Nineveh he does so because he is a statesman and real patriot of Israel. (2 Kings 14:25) 

Jonah’s story reminds us that God is more determined, and many of the circumstances in our own life stem from our disobedience. Yet God never violates our freedom of choice, forcing us to do something we don’t want, however, life may just brew up a storm and imprison us like it did Jonah until we pray our way out. 

Understand how merciful God was to Jonah, many are not so blessed. His solution swallows him and often times it consumes us and we get lost in the wash. But Jonah’s story reveals that if we hold on in prayer and fasting, day and night in the midst of our problem, the solution will often times vomit us out so we can and perform the will of the Father. God is great at 2nd, 3rd, and even more chances than we surely deserve. Psalm 147:3~He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NIV)

Upon Jonah’s release from the belly of prison, he’s recommissioned by God to proclaim freedom to the captives (Luke 4:18) Traversing about 400 miles, he will walk 3 days across the ancient city (Jonah 3:3) that is similar in size to that of Boston or Milwaukee today. Jonah’s message is, you got 40 days or else. Jonah 4:6~The word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (NKJ) How would Washington or even Columbia respond? Contrary to Jonah’s desires Nineveh repented. Proverbs 3:34~Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. (ESV)

Understand, the Assyrians who were notoriously sinful receive mercy and grace because our God’s nature is infinitely good. He offers those who walk with Him mercy even though they don’t deserve it. This offends Jonah, that God would save these sinners. How do you really feel about God’s grace? Is it just for you, or your family and friends? I would be willing to bet that like Jonah, many who profess love for God have a hardness in their hearts. God wants to set you free today. And all it will take is your humility to be set free and abounding in God’s grace. Don’t let the canker worm eat your joy. (Jonah 4:7) 

Jonah’s life teaches us a lot. About how God has a pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2) How our choices will oftentimes create a stormy circumstance of our own making, making even the mariners afraid. (Jonah 1:4-5) How prayer frees can truly free us. (Jonah 2:1-2) How proclaiming God can bring freedom to the captives. (Jonah 3:10) I know, it can take us some time to work through our junk, just as it does Jonah, but, being angry, upset, and worked up over God’s grace flowing in the lives of others is always going to rob you of the joy God has prepared.

Today, I want you to trust in the Lord. We should always trust in God for He sees the bigger picture and knows all of our future. There is a plan that God has purposed for you and real lasting joy is only found in doing the work of the Lord. 1 Peter 5:10~And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. (NIV) As you head out into the wide world about you, why not give in to what God is asking of you, so you can live full-on in His love and compassion, abounding in His joy.