Jonah Isn’t Just About a Whale

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When most people read the story of Jonah, the thing that jumps out the most is the fact that Jonah was running from God. Naturally, all that running resonates. Most of us can relate to running away from God.

However, there’s another side to Jonah. Jonah provides a profound lesson on the toxicity of hatred and disdain for unbelievers – hostility towards people who practice religions with which we disagree – bigotry towards people who are unlike us, spiritually.

Jonah wasn’t just running away from God but was also battling with a religious spirit – a spirit tempered by a coldness towards those who didn’t believe. Jonah lacked compassion. He lacked empathy. He struggled with the idea that a nation of unbelievers deserved mercy.

Like Jonah, we have to be careful not to run away from the will of God in our lives. But, we also have to remember to have compassion on the people that God loves – which is everyone. The same God that extended His mercy to Nineveh is the same God who extends His mercy to all of us.

We must have compassion for the world. God is not a God of hatred. God is love. He loves people; He loves us all. Jesus is for everybody.

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God Has Already Equipped You With What You Need

When most people pursue any goal in life, one of the first questions that they ask themselves is “Am I equipped?” Our talents and skills are embedded in our DNA, but there are times when we don’t appear to be born with what we need, however, we only need to look to scripture to see that every soul is equipped.

God equipped David with a natural ability and strength to overcome his enemies. He was born a fighter, which came in handy when it was time for him to secure the royal throne. God equipped Joseph and Daniel with supernatural wisdom so that they could bestow divine assistance to pagan kings. Solomon was also equipped with wisdom and riches to lead His people.

God equipped Moses, but Moses refused to acknowledge that he was already equipped, so, God (in his mercy) sent Aaron to help him. In Exodus 31, God tells Moses that he has equipped two special men – Oholiab and Bezalel – to build the temple furnishings, the ark of the testimony, and the mercy-seat. God equipped Oholiab and Bezalel with ability, intelligence, and overarching knowledge in their craft.

God gave Noah the compassion, foresight, and strength to build an ark that would save humanity. God even gave him the exact specifications so that he could build the boat perfectly. God equipped Esther with beauty, femininity, and inner strength, and we also know that Job was equipped with the mesmerizing virtue of patience.

When God placed Adam in the garden, He equipped Adam with everything he needed to be effective in his work. Adam didn’t worry about whether or not he had the right gardening tools or the magic of a green thumb because God had already supplied everything for Adam in advance. God didn’t create Adam and Eve as casual observers, but active participants. Their role was to care for creation. It was their calling to keep the earth, and they were equipped.

However, God, who is omniscient, knew in his foreknowledge that Adam would fall and had already equipped Adam with everything that he needed to handle life outside of Eden. As children of Adam, we too are equipped with everything we need to handle life outside of Eden. Every soul is equipped. God has already equipped you with everything you need.

When People Make Peace Impossible…

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)

Is there someone in your life who insists on poking you in the eye every time he sees you? The Bible doesn’t say you have to just let it keep happening. It does say that some people are toxic: “Their venom is like the venom of a snake …” (Psalm 58:4 NIV)

Having someone like that in your life can mess up your attitude. It can mess up your friendships. It can mess up your marriage.

People who are toxic are going to blame anyone but themselves — including you — for the problems in their lives. They may love to blame you for their pain, but you have to realize that it’s not about you. It’s about them.

When these chaotic people get around you, it starts to rub off, and you may start thinking, “Am I going crazy? I know they’re crazy, but am I crazy, too?”

No, you’re not crazy. Remember: It’s not about you.

The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Notice the two qualifiers in this verse. First, it says “if” it is possible, not “it is.” Second, it says “as far as it depends on you.”

I don’t know if you’ve learned this yet, but it’s not always possible to live at peace. There are some people who, no matter what you do, are still going to poke you in the eye. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. It has to do with their pain and their hurt.

You know what I love about the Bible? It always tells the truth about God, life, and human behavior. The Bible points out that it’s not always possible to live at peace with everybody. There are some people you just can’t get along with. There are some people who, no matter how nice you are to them, are still going to be mean to you.

God says you need to realize that it’s not about you. Then, you need to move on.

The above article can be found at Rick Warren’s site, Pastor Rick.

On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24)

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Several weeks ago, I had a dream, and at the end of the dream, I heard one word.

It was the word Emmaus.

When I woke up, I immediately went to the Greek to discover the meaning. But the technical definition of the word didn’t resonate. I was missing something.

Just two weeks after searching fruitlessly for the meaning, I discovered what the dream meant. The word Emmaus is found in Luke 24. In the passage, Yeshua appears to two disciples who are talking about the crucifixion. The disciples aren’t quite sure how to piece everything together. They understand that Yeshua was supposed to be the Messiah, but His death on the cross was a point of sadness and confusion.

On the road to Emmaus, Yeshua opened the scriptures to them and showed them everything about Himself that was found in the scriptures and explained how all the scriptures and everything that took place was part of God’s plan.

The eyes of their heart and understanding were enlightened.

The journey on Emmaus concluded with them having a deeper understanding of the scriptures and deeper revelation of who God is. The trip also ended with them seeing the risen Christ with their own very eyes.

Emmaus is the journey of discarding your religious, theological and philosophical ideas of who you believe Christ is and then searching the scriptures for the Truth. Emmaus is the journey by which we allow Yeshua to reveal Himself to us.

This should be the prayer of every Christian: that God would reveal Himself to us as He did on the road to Emmaus.

Waking at 3AM – A Spiritual Phenomena

Waking in the middle of the night
Waking in the middle of the night

During a period when I was seeking God, something strange was beginning to happen to me. I was starting to wake up during the middle of the night – specifically at 3AM.

It was odd because I was waking up at exactly 3AM. Not a minute before or after. So, I googled to see if anyone else was experiencing this weird phenomenon. Of course, I learned that thousands of people were going through the same thing, and as I suspected there was often a spiritual reason that this was occurring.

There seemed to be scores of people who were experiencing the same 3AM awakening that was happening to me. One man admitted that as he was preparing to become a priest, the 3AM phenomena started to happen in his life. Among Christians, there seemed to be a consensus that waking up at 3AM was a nudge from God to be with Him and take the time to make it sacred – by prayer or worship – or lying still as Samuel did and saying “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

One thing I’ve learned in my spiritual walk is that if I wake in the middle of the night, I assume that it’s time to pray. I assume that it’s time for worship. I assume that there is a spiritual battle that has intensified around me, or that there is a unique anointing present in the atmosphere. And I take the time, even if it’s for a brief moment to pray because God has me up for a reason.

* If you have more interest in this subject, an article here or here on prayer watches may be helpful to you.

Does God Cause Sickness? The Real Meaning of Hebrews 12:7-10

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Hebrews 12:7-10 –  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

A couple of years ago I found myself on the phone with a security alarm company. I had signed a contract which I believed to be one year with the company, but the contract was actually for much longer – three years. I was upset. I questioned the company’s ethics. I argued back and forth with the customer service rep on the phone, but stopped when I heard the Holy Spirit say “Apologize to her.” All fell quiet.

I resisted for a fraction of a second because I didn’t want to apologize to anyone. I was adamant that I was right. But God was right. And I was wrong. I apologized to the representative on the phone. I felt like an unruly child who had misbehaved. I realized I was being reprimanded. I was experiencing Hebrews 12:7-10.

Some people believe that sickness and accidents are the disciplines of God. Some people actually believe that God disciplines his children with diseases and terrible accidents. Lies. All lies. God is a good, loving Father.

In Hebrews 12, it tells Christians to endure hardship as discipline. The Greek word use for discipline is the word paideia. Paideia is an easy word to define. In ancient Greece, paideia referred to the education and instruction of Greek citizens. It was a practical, subject-based teaching. Paideia included instruction in everything from liberal arts and medicine to music and gymnastics. The Greeks used the training to help each citizen understood their role in society.

The word paideia has nothing to do with destruction or punishment. The word means chastening, instruction and nurturing. It’s training that cultivates the soul, the morals, and the mind.

God tells Christians to endure instruction.

And instruction doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t feel good to have your views challenged. It isn’t easy or painless to surrender every area, desire and will for your life completely to God. It never feels good to get confronted by your iniquity or have the Holy Spirit tell you that you need to change something – your behavior, your viewpoint, your personality, your relationships.

As you walk the narrow road, things will get increasingly difficult. It will be hard, and you will grieve, because whenever a person suffers loss, it’s grievous. As you allow God to instruct you, you will lose things.

You will lose friends.
You may even lose family.
You should expect to even lose pieces of yourself as God transforms you into a new creation.

No chastening in the present moment feels good but grievous. Nevertheless, if you allow God to instruct you, then it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

When Hebrews 12 tells us to endure chastisement, it’s not talking about enduring what the devil is trying to use to destroy you. If you are going through something terrible, rough, or tragic, know this: God is a Good Father. He is never to blame. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But God comes to give life, and He gives it more abundantly.

Book of 70 Prayers (A Book Review)

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Sometimes books drop into your life at precisely the right time. And so it is with Book of 70 Prayers. Book of 70 Prayers is a Deja Vu experience of God’s favor gracing my life at just the right time. The author sent me a copy of his work, and the book is such a blessing.

The content is simple, easy to read, and practical. What I particularly loved about this book is that if you have a basic understanding of the Bible, then you’ll immediately notice that the prayers are scriptural.

There is nothing more powerful than praying the scriptures, and this is one of those books that brings the Word of God into your prayer life seamlessly. Another aspect of this book that I admired was the author’s wisdom in isolating the prayers of the Apostle Paul. When viewed in such a context, the prayers serve as a stark reminder of what we should be praying for the church today.

There are two primary things that this book can do for you:

1. This book will change your heart. Prayer has a way of cleansing the heart, soul, and spirit. I’m reminded of a promise found in Exodus 36:26 which reads: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. This is something that we should all long for – a new heart.

2. This book will inspire you to become more reflective. I’m drawn to books that foster quiet introspection. I found myself reflecting as I read through Royle’s work.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” If you are interested in deepening your prayer life, you can purchase the Book of 70 Prayers here.

To find out more about the author (Jason Royle) check out his website here.