Jonah Isn’t Just About a Whale

jonah

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.

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.

We are Made in His Image (The Trinity)

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The Trinity is one of the most controversial and misunderstood subjects in theology. It has divided many Christians and even separated us into factions between those who believe that God is three and one and those who do not.

However, I think that the evidence for the Trinity is seen in man himself, whom God made in His own image. In man, we have three parts  – spirit, soul, and body. And in God, we see three manifestations -a spirit (the Holy Spirit) – a soul (the Father) – and the body (the Son).

We see throughout scripture that often the word used for spirit and soul are used interchangeably. However, we know that there is a distinction between the two. The word for soul in the Hebrew is the word nephesh. This word is best described as the literal soul and is a representation of a person’s life, emotions, desires, mind, and passion. It is the activity of his will.

However, the spirit is a different word in the Hebrew. The word spirit is ruwach. This word spirit is described as wind or breath. I believe that the spirit (or ruwach) is simply the energy or force that emits from the soul.

We have a spirit, a soul, and a body. We are triune. We are made in His image.

God has a spirit, a soul, and a body. He is triune. This is the nature of the Trinity.

What Every Christian Should Know About Fasting

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Fasting is not an option. If you are a Christian, fasting should be part of your Christian walk. If you have never fasted, I highly suggest you do it. However, before your fast, there a few things you should know.

1. Not everyone is ready for 25 days on water.

When I was in my early 20’s, I could fast for three days (water only) with relative ease. But, my diet was also a wreck so I had extra fat reserves. Now that I’m healthier, older, thinner and have a child,  I’m ready to fall on the floor the second day of water fasting. My husband, on the other hand, could fast 25 days on water with ease, but he’s also a superhero which is another story. I felt guilt about my inability to fast for long periods until I watched Marilyn Hickey speak on fasting.  She explained that three day water fasts don’t work out well for her either, so she lives a fasted life. Each day she foregoes a meal or two. I made a commitment to live a fasted life.

2. A fast from television is NOT a Biblical fast.

With that said, everyone should fast from tv and technology because many people (including Christians) are addicted. However, Biblical fasts always involves food – it never involves entertainment.

3. When you fast you should avoid tv commercials.

The only thing that you’ll see on television during fasts are burgers and pizza. Also, people will invite you to birthday parties and dinner parties. A million people will call you at once to invite you to eat. This happens to me every time I fast. Don’t fall for it. Be socially prepared for fasting and prepare to turn invitations down because whatever you are doing for God is more important than what you were going to do with friends or family.

4. The devil will throw the kitchen sink at you when you fast.

My husband and I went on a forty day fast together several months ago, and the spiritual warfare was intense from day one!! It’s not uncommon to encounter spiritual warfare during a fast – be prepared – wear the armor of God. God knows you are fasting for His glory and He will help you.

5. Fasting breaks chains, demolishes strongholds, and it sets people free.

Fasting provides revelation – fasting can give you answers. Fasting is one of the most beautiful and powerful weapons God has given us. Use fasting to your advantage.

Does God Care About What You Eat?

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Does God care about what you eat?

The short answer is yes!

Food is a contentious subject among Christians. It’s almost as “controversial” as tithing. Money and food are two of the most powerful motivators in life, and people often want these areas all to themselves – completely free of any moral boundaries. But, is this what God wants?

We know a few things from scripture. We know that He speaks of money often. In the Old Testament, money is often connected with one of two things – either blessings or greed. And in the New Testament, we see more examples of money’s profound effect. But money isn’t the only issue that causes some Christians to clash – food is increasingly become an issue, especially as more and more Christians advocate a healthy diet.

The question is: Does God care about what you eat? But I think the question should be: Does God care about your body?

If the answer to the second question is yes. Then the answer to the first question is also yes.

God cares about what you eat.

He wants you healthy, and you don’t have to look far to discover that food has a profound effect on the body. I think it’s important to remember a few things:

  1. God wants you to prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
  2. Gluttony is a struggle for many of us, but nothing is unconquerable with the Holy Spirits’ help. His Grace is sufficient to help you even when you’re weak, and if you have a food addiction, there is hope in Him.
  3. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Secret to a Long Life… in the Bible

Via Stocksnap
Via Stocksnap

I recently read an NPR article titled Secrets of the Very Old and Healthy.  To summarize the NPR article – the secret to longevity to simply being active. Scientists have figured out that aging gracefully has a lot to do with staying active. I believe that being active is one key to long life, but the Bible gives us even more powerful tools for longevity.

In the book 65 Promises for Your Child, there are lat least five other ways to secure a long life. These promises can be found in Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 3:13-16, Psalm 91:16, Proverbs 10:27, and Deuteronomy 11:21. Below are at least five Biblical ways to ensure a long life:

– Honoring your father and mother

– Seeking wisdom

– Setting your love on God and knowing His Name

– Fearing the Lord

– Speaking and displaying God’s Word in your home

Let’s never forget that only God can satisfy us with long life and show us his salvation.

If God Tells You to Do Something…

Via Unsplash
Via Unsplash

What is God telling you to do? What has He been saying to you that you’ve been resisting? Why is it that so many of us can’t seem to find the capacity to move when God speaks? Why is it that many of us stand paralyzed when God tells us to move?

The answer is so simple and yet so complex.

The answer is fear.

The answer is rebellion.

The answer is pride.

The answer is weakness.

The answer is blindness.

The answer is disobedience.

There are so many reasons why we don’t do what God is telling us to do. There are so many reasons we are disobedient to His voice and His instructions. But is this not our ruin? Our disobedience, which leads us to sin against the Almighty is exactly the mountain that blocks our path to His blessing.

And, so, today, I want to encourage you to do what God is telling you to do. Don’t hesitate. Don’t remain inert. Move quickly and swiftly at the Father’s command and do exactly what He tells you to do.