LESSONS FROM JONAH
Read: Jonah 1
I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered
me. - Jonah 2:2
The story of Jonah is one of the most discussed and
fascinating accounts in the Bible. But for all the debate, one
thing is sure: Jonah did a lot of soul-searching in that smelly
All of us can identify. Sometimes life just goes badly. When
it does, like Jonah we need to ask ourselves some hard questions.
Is there sin in my life? In light of Jonah's blatant
disobedience, God had to do something drastic to catch his
attention and lead him to repentance.
What can I learn from this situation? The wicked people of
Nineveh were enemies of God's people. Jonah thought they should
be judged and not given a second chance. He obviously needed a
lesson in sharing God's compassion for the lost. "God saw their
works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented
from the disaster" (Jonah 3:10).
Can I display God's glory in this? Often our suffering is
not about us but about people seeing the power of God working
through our weakness. Jonah found himself in a helpless
situation, yet God used him to lead a pagan nation to repentance.
Next time you find yourself in a "belly-of-a-whale" problem,
don't forget to ask the hard questions. It could mean the
difference between despair and deliverance. - Jim Stowell
FOR FURTHER STUDY
For an in-depth study of the fascinating account of Jonah, read
The Failure Of Success, The Story Of Jonah at
WE LEARN LESSONS IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING THAT WE CAN LEARN IN
NO OTHER WAY.
KEEP THE FIRE BURNING
Read: Romans 12:9-21
Be fervent in spirit. - Romans 12:11
Modem furnaces have taken the work out of keeping warm in
cold climates. We simply set the timer on the thermostat, and the
house is warm when we get up in the morning. But in former days,
fire was care fully tended and fuel supplies were closely
monitored. Running out could be deadly.
The same is true spiritually. If we think our "spiritual
fire" can be ignited as easily as a modem furnace, we risk losing
our fervor for the Lord
In ancient Israel, the priests were instructed not to let
the fire on the altar go out (Lev.6:9,12-13). This required a lot
of work, not the least of which was collecting firewood in a land
not known for its dense forests.
Some scholars see the fire on the altar as a symbol for the
flame of our devotion for the Lord. Spiritual passion is not
something to be treated lightly or taken for granted. It will
grow cold if we fail to keep it supplied with fuel.
The apostle Paul addressed the subject of spiritual fervor
in his letter to the Romans (12:1-2,11). To keep the fire of our
devotion burning strong, we must continue the hard work of
stocking our fuel supply with hope, patience, steadfast prayer,
generosity, hospitality, and humility (vv. 11-16). - Julie
O God, my heart is the altar, And my love for you is the flame;
I'll keep the fire burning for You, Lord, And will rejoice in
Your name. - Hess
OUR LOVE FOR JESUS IS THE KEY TO SPIRITUAL PASSION.
CHECK THE OBVIOUS
Read: Colossians 3:12-17
Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. - Colossians
When Bill Husted walked into his high school reunion, he
shook hands and hugged people for 20 minutes before realizing
there were two high school reunions in the building that day and
he was at the wrong one. Husted, a technology writer for the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, used that experience to illustrate
one of his enduring axioms of computer troubleshooting: Check the
obvious first. Before you replace the sound card, make sure the
volume control is not turned down. If the modem isn't working,
check to see if it's connected.
"Check the obvious first" can be a good principle for
spiritual troubleshooting as well. Colossians 3:12-17 lists a
dozen spiritual qualities that indicate a healthy soul. Prominent
among them are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness,
patience, forgiveness, love, and thankfulness.
Before criticizing our church or other Christian groups, we
might ask the Lord to reveal our own shortcomings. Prior to
ripping out the wires of relationships, we could check to see if
patience and forgiveness are connected in our own heart.
It's good to look inside our heart - to check the obvious
first - even when it feels as if all our problems are caused by
others. - David McCasland
I'll check within my own heart first, The obvious to see, That
faults I find in others, Are really faults in me. - D.De Haan
CHRISTLIKE LOVE IS PATIENT WITH THE FAULTS OF OTHERS.
Read: Genesis 12:1-4
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out. - Hebrews
During a baseball game in the summer of 2006, Boston Red Sox
centerfielder Coco Crisp made a spectacular play. David Wright of
the New York Mets hit a ball toward left centerfield. The ball
was moving away from Crisp as he raced after it. Just as it began
to fall to the ground Crisp dove headlong toward it. With his
body flying through the air, he stretched his gloved hand as far
as possible - and caught the ball. Some called it the best catch
they had ever seen.
What were his thoughts as the ball sliced through the air?
Crisp said, "I didn't think I could get there. I decided to go
for it. I took a leap of faith."
In Hebrews 11, we read of what Abraham discovered "by
faith." God called him to leave his country and family and go "to
a land that I will show you" (Gen.12:1). By faith, Abraham
Is God calling you to do something difficult? Perhaps to
take a missions trip to help people in need. Or to witness to
someone throwing her life away with bad decisions. Or to show
kindness and love in a relationship that needs encouragement. If
you aren't sure you can do it, ask God to help you. Then,
trusting your loving heavenly Father, dive toward that goal. It
could be the best play of your life. - Dave Bruce
We who love Jesus are walking by faith, Not seeing one step
that's ahead, Not doubting one moment what our lot may be, But
looking to Jesus instead - Fields
WHEN GOD PRESENTS YOU WITH A CHALLENGE, TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH.
Read: 2 Kings 22:11-23:3
The king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord
... And all the people took a stand for the covenant. - 2 Kings
In May of 2001, English evangelist J. John spoke in
Liverpool, England, on the eighth commandment: "You shall not
steal" (Ex.20:15; Dent.5:19). The results of his preaching were
People's hearts were changed. One author reports that large
amounts of stolen goods were returned, including hotel towels,
hospital crutches, library books, cash, and more. One man, who is
now in the ministry, even returned towels he had taken from the
Wimbledon tennis championships years ago when he worked there.
Something similar happened with King Josiah in the 18th year
of his reign. Because of the long line of evil kings, the record
of God's laws had been lost. So when Hilkiah found God's law and
Shaphan read it to King Josiah, the king tore his clothes in
grief and immediately began making religious reforms in his own
life and throughout the nation. With just one reading of God's
Word, he changed the course of the nation (2 Kings 22:8-23:25).
Today, many of us own Bibles, but are we changed by the
truths found there? We are called to read, hear, and obey His
Word. It should cause us, like Josiah, to take immediate action
to bring our lives into harmony with God's desires. - Marvin
THINKING IT OVER
Is it my habit to read God's Word every day? How does awareness
of sin break my heart, as it did for King Josiah?
OPEN YOUR BIBLE PRAYERFULLY; READ IT CAREFULLY; OBEY IT JOYFULLY.
ABLE TO FORGET
Read: Philippians 1:3
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. - Philippians 1:3
On a cold, dreary November day, I attended the funeral of a
friend. During the eulogy, the widow began to sob loudly. At that
point, the pastor spoke odd words meant to comfort: "That's okay.
Someday you'll be able to forget"
Able m forget? The widow's expression made it clear that she
had no desire to forget. Cherished memories of her husband
provided a comfort and joy she intended to cling to, anticipating
a reunion someday. One of the most precious gifts God has given
us is the ability to remember. There are plenty of hurts and
disappointments in life that we should forget. But good memories
become a treasure chest of priceless reminders of relationships
shared and joys experienced.
Paul felt that way about his time spent with the church in
Philippi: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (Phil.
1:3). His ability to remember his friends in Philippi brought him
great comfort as he awaited trial in Rome, prompting him to
joyfully pray for them. You could never have convinced him that
comfort was found in being able to forget, because he rejoiced in
being able to remember.
God gives us cherished memories. Cling to them when sorrows
come. - Bill Crowder
Where is the heart that does not keep, Within its inmost store
some fond remembrance hidden deep, Of days that are no more? -
NEVER LET TODAY'S BURDEN ERASE YESTERDAY'S BLESSING
Read: Romans 16:1-16
I commend to you Phobe our sister, who ... has been a helper of
many. - Romans 16:1-2
When a special delivery letter is handed to us at the door,
it usually means we are receiving something very important.
According to many Bible scholars, Phoebe was the one who
hand-delivered a letter of immeasurable value to the church in
Rome - Paul's inspired doctrinal masterpiece. It points out how a
lost and sinful humanity can find redemption through faith in the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Phoebe, whose name means "bright and radiant," lived in
Cenchrea, a harbor village in eastern Corinth where Paul had
stopped during his third missionary journey. Because of her
kindness to him, he wrote to the Romans, "I commend to you Phoebe
our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you
may ... assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for
indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also"
(16:1-2). Phoebe had assisted others in getting out the Word of
All of us are "spiritual mail carriers." We have the good
news that Paul wrote about so many centuries ago. And like
Phoebe, we should assist in delivering it by word and deed to
people around us who need its life-giving message. - Dennis
Do good to all and kindness show, That's what God's Word
commands; For when we're serving in Christ's name, We are His
feet and hands. - Fitzhugh
WE SERVE GOD BY SHARING HIS WORD WITH OTHERS.