Left for dead ∙

Left for dead ∙

They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. – Act 14:19          

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

 23 I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.

 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.

 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.

 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.

 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm

Harry Ironside was laid aside for dead when he was born on October 14, 1876, in Toronto, Canada. His mother was in extremely bad condition and needed all the attention she could get if she were to pull through. But the Father had big plans for the “dead” baby. A nurse detected a feeble pulse in him. She popped him into a bath of hot water and he quickly exercised the vocal cords which would declare Christ to perhaps a million listeners throughout his life.

By the time he was four, he had memorized his first scripture verse. That did not set his mind at rest with God. He became a great student of the Bible, reading it through fourteen times by the time he was fourteen years old. At fourteen years of age, he asked the Lord for salvation. He became associated with the Plymouth Brethren. Despite only an eighth-grade education, Harry Ironside became one of the world’s best-known and best-beloved Bible teachers, traveling the globe to give messages. Never ordained, he nonetheless pastored Moody Memorial Church in Chicago for eighteen years (christianity.com).

What could be more tragic than being born dead? I would guess to be born alive, but to wish you had been “born dead.” Many of us have had thoughts like that because of the traumas, disappointments, rejections, or abuse that we have suffered.

Jonah 4:3 Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.

Job was a man like that. He suffered tremendously in almost every area of his life. He lost much of his family, his wealth, and eventually his health. Finally, when he thought he could take no more, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1). Job continued to live on in his gloom, frustration, and anger. He found himself questioning everything. He never expected to find any answers.

Job was startled and totally surprised when the Father, the King of the universe shows up and turns the tables. The Father begins to query Job, asking him questions that revealed how limited Job’s knowledge and understanding were (Job 38, 39). There is nothing abnormal about questioning God, people do it all the time. Are you really prepared for the answer?

Job 40:1-5

 1 Then the LORD said to Job,

 2 “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”

 3 Then Job replied to the LORD,

 4 “I am nothing – how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand.”

 5 “I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”

In the end, prudent people realize that there is not much chance of winning an argument with the almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal Father. Job eventually figures this out for himself.

Job 42:1-6

 1 Then Job replied to the LORD:

 2 “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.”

 3 “You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”

 5 “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”

 6 “I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father has a purpose and a plan for all that He does. He does not always explain the whys of our lives. Often, they are only understood in retrospect

Father, there have been so many times that I have questioned you. I wish I could take it all back.

INSIGHT

The apostle Paul endured much suffering as he served the Father. But from the beginning he had something, that Job lacked, an eternal perspective. He understood that being true to the faith and living it out, came with a price. Paul had received a high calling and responsibility from the Father. With the high calling, came a high price.

2 Timothy 3:10-14

 10 Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance.

 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra – but the Lord rescued me from all of it.

 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

 14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

There was never a question in Paul’s mind about his purpose. He wanted to do the Father’s will at all costs and finish the work that the Father had for him. Paul never asked others to suffer for him, but he was always willing to suffer for others. In his case, he suffered for doing the right thing. Seeking to be faithful and godly is not a ticket to escape from suffering and persecution. Rather, it is a front-row seat to it.

This is one of those promises of God that we’d really rather do without. God tells us this, not to discourage us, but to prepare us for the inevitable so that we can shine for Him when the time comes (Stanley).

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Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:12

Ecclesiastes 8:11 When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.

2 Timothy 3:12-14

 12 Indeed, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

 13 But evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

 14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

The 21st century has seen a dramatic Trust Fall. A Trust Fall is a fairly universal collapse of trust. This trust fall is not limited to any particular social strata in society. The two main institutions with the greatest drop in trust are the government and media. How ironic that the government is tasked with making changes while the media often acts as its cheerleader.

For any society to function properly, social trust, that is the expectation that other people will do as they ought to most of the time, is essential. Webster defines trust as assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Social trust is faith in the people of the community. Ed Batista developed a simple formula for trust.

Trust = Motive + Reliability + Competence

During most of the 20th century, Americans expressed high faith in their institutions. A high point was 1964 when 77% of Americans said they trust that the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. After multiple moral convulsions, just 30 years later in 1994, only 20% of Americans felt that way.

In the 21st century, something tragic happened. The Trust Fall mutated into Explosive Distrust. Explosive Distrust is not just the absence of trust or detached alienation. Rather it is aggressive animosity and with an urge to destroy. Explosive Distrust carries with it the belief that anyone who disagrees with you is not simply wrong but illegitimate (Linda Huang, The Atlantic).

Distrust sows distrust. The distrust mindset is considered a spiritual state that has been dubbed anomie, a feeling of being disconnected from society, a feeling that the whole game is illegitimate, that you are invisible and not valued, a feeling that the only person you can unquestionably trust is yourself (Emile Durkheim).

Explosive Distrust is chilling, threatening. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of such a disastrous situation rampant in the days leading up to His return.

REFLECT & PRAY

Children of the King are to be alert. They are to resist becoming lethargic and chilled by selfish lawlessness.

Father, I desperately need Your help to resist the oppressive force of lawlessness in our present age. How easy it is to allow my love to grow cold.

INSIGHT

Matthew 24:3 “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus Christ about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, He responds with a preview of the general conditions of the earth that precede it and also lead up to His return. He likens them to birth pains. Lawlessness is one of the many prophetic strands which characterizes the buildup to the eschatological climax, the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24:12 Because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold.

The Greek word translated increase, abound is plethuno. Plethuno connotes more than simply being enlarged. It means being multiplied. In American 21st century colloquial slang, we would say supersized.

Lawlessness has a chilling, extremely discouraging effect. “Where lawlessness prevails selfish interests and personal concerns completely overshadow a loving regard for others” (Chouinard). “By definition, the lawless person is motivated by personal, selfish concerns, not by any regard for others or for the rules that govern our intercourse with one another” (Morris).

The Greek word translated grow cold is psucho. Psucho “means grow cool or cold, but, in connection with the imagery of fire or flame, go out, be extinguished, be snuffed out . . .. The verse has in view the failure rather than the weakening of love” (John Nolland). The Greek verbal form is passive. This means that “the many” in view receive the action, not initiate it. Their love is snuffed out, extinguished. What a somber and bleak picture of things to come.

Betrayal, suspicion, and hating one another are close companions of lost love (Matthew 24:10). What an awful climate to live in.

It is amazing, remarkable that the Scriptures so accurately describe many of the characteristics of the 21st century. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ said things would be like leading up to His second coming. They are the birth pains that bring to the end the current age and inaugurate the age to come.

“It’s cross now, crown then. It is labor now, delivery then. So be patient. Endure. Breathe in; breathe out. Trust that God will work everything for your good. That baby is soon to be born. And the hard and long labor will then all seem worth it” (Donnell).

Revelation 3:2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

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Throwing in the towel ∙

Throwing in the towel

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:9

Galatians 6:1-10

 1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

 9 Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.

Failing to do the right thing is rampant in our times. Reports of high-profile ethical or moral fiascos have become the recurrent stuff of daily news cycles through the last several decades. High profile, public failure is widespread and covers all aspects of the social fabric of our times: Enron (massive fraud, misrepresentation), Arthur Andersen (accounting fraud, obstructing justice), Madoff (Ponzi scheme), Volkswagen (emissions scandal), Mark McGwire (PEDs), Uber (spy programs, embarrassing executive misconduct), RCC (Boston sexual abuse scandal), EF Hutton (check chaining), AH Robbins (Dalkon Shield), Anthony Weiner (sexually explicit photo tweets), Lance Armstrong (doping).

Rather than growing weary and giving up doing the right thing, “raise the bar.” Renew your resolve to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons. We have a leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was determined to do what was right no matter what until the end. In so doing, He has created a “ripple effect.” He is the model, we have only to emulate Him.

The John Deere company has core values of honor and integrity. It permeates everything they do. In 2018, the John Deere company was recognized as one of the most ethical companies in the world. Doing right works in the secular world. It works in the spiritual world as well. The Father’s forever family has clearly stated core values. It is incumbent for each of the Father’s children to stand firm upon them.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else (Winston Churchill).

Striving to do the right thing can be overwhelming.

Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

When faced with fighting a seemingly invincible enemy, Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill spoke to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all cost, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

You ask, what is our policy? To wage war . . . with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.

REFLECT & PRAY

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care” (Lou Holtz). Leave the results of our lives in the Father’s hands.

Father it is so discouraging to strive to do what is right and be slapped in the face. It stings. The Lord Jesus Christ was acquainted with this form of grief, but He never gave up. Encourage me to persist and not give up.

INSIGHT

In the popular comic strip “Peanuts,” Lucy asks Charlie Brown, “Why are we here on earth?” He replies, “To make others happy.” She ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Then why are the others here?” (Wiersbe)

The apostle Paul knows all too well that even the most determined of the Father’s children can become disillusioned.

He warns us not to grow weary of helping others and give up trying to do good. When he speaks of becoming weary, Paul does not mean merely physically tired or weak. The Greek word translated weary or tired, enkakeo, has the sense of becoming disappointed, spiritless, disheartened, or even despairing.

All too frequently, our efforts are either unrecognized or unappreciated. Even worse, our best, sincere labors are thwarted, and things do not turn out as we wished. Discouragement sets in. Such discouragement takes a bite out of our motivation. It knocks the wind out of our sails. We not so secretly ask the question, “What is the point of doing this?” Our interest and energy wane. We simply give up.

Paul pleads with us to persist. Our efforts to do right and come alongside others are like planting seeds. A harvest is certain. What we sow, we reap. It is only a matter of time. Perfection is not possible for fallen creatures in a fallen world. Continued growth and maturity to completeness are possible. Rather than seeking perfection with the certainty of disappointment, aim for improvement, gradual improvement.

“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child” (James Dobson). Stooping to do what is right, is right.

“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement” (Matt Biondis)

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Counsel of desperate despair

Counsel of desperate despair

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? – Psalms 11:3

Psalms 17:3-15

 3 You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say.

 4 I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people.

 5 My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.

 6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.

 7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.

 8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

 15 Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Mars, the god of war. Romulus became Rome’s first king. In 27 B.C., Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. Augustus’ rule ushered in the Pax Romana, two centuries of peace and prosperity. A vast, powerful empire flourished.

However, the Roman Empire eventually collapsed under its own weight. It had become bloated and corrupt. One after another it has provinces were lost. In September 476 A.D, a Germanic prince named Odovacar defeated the Roman army in Italy, bringing an ignoble end to the long, triumphant though tumultuous history of ancient Rome.

The reasons for Rome’s collapse continue to be an ongoing debate among historians. Several of the key factors include the barbarian invasions, economic troubles, overexpansion, military overspending, government corruption, political instability, loss of traditional values, the division of the Empire between East and West, and the weakening of Rome’s military. The foundation upon which it was built disintegrated. The Roman empire was no more.

David, king of Israel was going through similar turmoil. The foundation of his nation, the principles of Mosaic law and justice, and the institutions derived from them were being undermined (Psalm 11:3). When the foundations are destroyed, a complete breakdown of law and order in the community follows. The FRCL translates it as “The standards of the society are in ruins” (UBS).

The Hebrew word translated destroyed or collapsed is haras. Haras refers to something that has been destroyed or damaged irreparably. It is the verb that is used to describe the destruction of the Egyptian armies at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:7). The results of this activity are often horrific, appalling, ghastly, disgusting, or loathsome.

REFLECT & PRAY

In fearful times David’s closest advisors and friends tempted him to doubt. He had to choose between flight or faith. He chose faith.

Father, You dwarf all adverse circumstances. When difficult times come, You offer each child of the King an opportunity to go through them with You by our side in spirit or sometimes even corporeally (Matthew 28:20, Daniel 3). There is no reason for fear and flight.

INSIGHT

David had known the Father since he was a small boy. The Father was with him on those dark lonely nights when he watched over his sheep. He was there when David prayed. The Father responded by gently, lovingly whispering in his ear. The Father saw this faithful child develop confidence that could survive all testing until Bathsheba. Humanly speaking, they are not just close friends, they were buddies.

Psalms 11:1 I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

The same was not so of his advisors. They saw only the impending, threatening storm. They did not see the Father who has power over the storm. In modern times, Doppler radar alerts those on the ground when severe weather approaches. When deadly hurricanes approach, a warning goes out to evacuate. As far as David’s fainthearted counselors were concerned, a man-made hurricane was coming, the situation was hopeless. The Nation of Israel was doomed. They strongly urged him to evacuate, flee, and save himself. “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!”

This puzzled David. Do not they know who David is? More importantly, do not they know who the Father is? Surely, they should be aware of David’s faith and confidence in the Father. He totally trusted in the Lord for protection. The Father could certainly handle the situation. There is no reason to fear or run away. David totally rejects their well-meaning, fact-based advice. He is determined to stand his ground no matter what.

He counters with “a spirited retort to some demoralizing advice” (Kidner). He asked them a question, the gist of which was, “How can you say such a thing.” No doubt he thought something like, “The difficulties we face now, might be bad, but they are not that bad. I have faced greater problems over longer periods of time than this. The Father will take care of me. This too shall pass.”

Psalms 11:3 The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”

Can you picture his advisors? Do they seem fidgety and nervous? Do you see them shaking as they spoke? Are their lips quivering as they try to get the words out? Perhaps under their breath, they were muttering, “What can we do, what can we possibly do?” To their rhetorical question, they had already decided that the answer was “nothing.”

David’s great confidence and faith were derived from years of walking with the Father. How could they be so weak-kneed and unstable? How could they be so filled with fear? Where was their faith?

Psalms 11:4-7

 4 But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.

 5 The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence.

 7 For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.

David puts them off. He dismisses them. David explains his confidence. His faith gave him assurance regarding things he could not see with his eyes. He asks a question to himself and answers it. Where is the Father right now? He sits enthroned in heaven above it all. He is simply watching as the events of history unfold.

The Father’s eye on both the righteous and the wicked. At any moment, He can intervene and enter into the time-space continuum. The Scriptures are replete with the record of Him doing exactly that (the miracle of the Red Sea, the fall of Jericho, the fiery furnace, etc.). Because the Father is securely enthroned in heaven for all eternity, there is not really much reason to be concerned. Even though it seems as though the world is falling apart, David declares his confidence in the Father. David shows the way of faith for all children of the King to follow.

Psalms 11:2-3

 2 The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.

 3 The foundations of law and order have collapsed.

This sounds eerily familiar to recurring events of the 21st century. It should be a wake-up call. Without a firm foundation, how can western civilization stand?

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To whom it may concern? ∙

To whom it may concern?

A Syrian soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. – 2 Chronicles 18:33

1 Kings 21:17-20

 17 But the LORD said to Elijah,

 18 “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria.”

 19 “Give him this message: ‘This is what the LORD says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’”

 20 “So, my enemy, you have found me!” Ahab exclaimed to Elijah. “Yes,” Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the LORD’s sight.

Job 1:21 The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away.

There are many definitions of stray bullets. One defines a stray bullet as a bullet that leaves the immediate area of where it was shot and injures a human being. Another definition refers to a bullet that hits an unintended target. Stray bullet injuries and deaths result from missing targets when hunting or sport-shooting, accidental or negligent discharges, getting caught in a crossfire, or celebratory gunfire. They are considered a freak accident or an act of God. The casualty was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” They cannot be predicted, controlled, or prevented.

The probability of accidental death from stray bullet about 1 in 8500 (www.iii.org). To put this in perspective the odds of dying from heart disease 1 in 6, cancer 1 in 7, suicide 1 in 86, opioids 1 in 98, automobile accidents 1 in 106, drowning 1 in 1121, choking on food 1 in 2618, sunstroke 1 in 7770, cataclysmic storm 1 in 54,669, dog attack 1 in 118,776, lightning 1 in 180,746 (NSC, 2018). The odds of getting bitten by a shark 1 and 3,750,000 (Insider, 2018).      

What about stray arrows?

The Scriptures contain stories that you just can’t make up. So it is with the story of Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. This story takes place during the time of the divided kingdom after the reign of Solomon. The 10 northern tribes are called Israel and the two southern tribes are called Judah.

Jehoshaphat king of Judah was a good king, while Ahab king of Israel was an evil king. Regrettably, Ahab convinces Jehoshaphat to ally and they join forces in battle.

Micaiah the prophet of the Lord told Ahab that he would surely die. He was a doomed man.

2 Chronicles 18:16-18

 16 Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’

 18 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left.”

REFLECT & PRAY

Things happen that are beyond our control. Mere humans cannot predict them nor prevent them. But the Father knows the future before it occurs. He demonstrates that He is in control by prophesying specific events in advance.

Father thank You that You are sovereign. There are no random arrows. We can outlive the best-laid traps of our enemies. While our enemies cannot escape your predictions.

INSIGHT

Ahab took the Father’s prediction delivered by Micaiah to heart and did everything he could to save himself, except quit the battle and leave immediately for home. He employed deception, deceit, disguises, and camouflage. Ahab did everything short of painting a sign on Jehoshaphat’s back, “I am the king of Israel, kill me if you can.”

2 Chronicles 18:29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.

All of Ahab’s efforts were to no avail. What appeared to be a freak accident was nothing of the kind. The kill shot was predicted and guided. The Father had the final word. There are no stray arrows, only those that appear to be. “The random arrow shot by an anonymous archer was guided by the Lord to its target, and Ahab was mortally wounded” (Thompson).

2 Chronicles 18:30 Meanwhile, the king of Syria had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.”

2 Chronicles 18:31,32

 31 So when the Syrian chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the LORD saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him.

 32 As soon as the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they stopped chasing him.

Amid all the confusion, the Father fulfilled the prophecy delivered by Elijah concerning King Ahab. A Syrian archer fired an arrow in the general direction of the Army of Israel. Everyone present would have thought the arrow had written on it “to whom it may concern.” But in fact, Ahab’s name was written on it. The arrow penetrated the area between the joints of Ahab’s armor. Ahab was mortally wounded and died the same day

The Father heard Jehoshaphat’s prayer for help. He turned away his attackers and spared his life. But the Father had some choice words of confrontation for Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 19:2 King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD.”

How could King Jehoshaphat not have realized what Ahab was up to? If Ahab had painted a target on Jehoshaphat’s back, he could not have made it easier for the enemy to kill him! But the Father is sovereign in all things. He protected Jehoshaphat. While simultaneously directing the arrow into the vulnerable opening in Ahab’s armor. “Ahab was disguised and yet was killed, while Jehoshaphat was in his royal robes and never touched” (Wiersbe).

1 Kings 22:37-38

 37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria.

 38 They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood . . .  According to the word of the LORD which He spoke.

“The Lord helped Jehoshaphat out of a tight spot that he never should have been in. God’s grace covers a multitude of our sins” (Stanley).

When it comes to the fulfillment of the Father’s will in general and prophecy in particular, there are only three logical possibilities regarding what happens: The Father is in control, people are in control, nobody’s in control, everything is random.

Isaiah 48:5 I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do.

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What is the biggest mistake you’ve made? ∙

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD still here, that we may ask him?” – 2 Chronicles 18:6

2 Chronicles 18:1-2

 1 Jehoshaphat enjoyed great riches and high esteem, and he made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by having his son marry Ahab’s daughter.

 2 A few years later he went to Samaria to visit Ahab, who prepared a great banquet for him and his officials. They butchered great numbers of sheep, goats, and cattle for the feast. Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.

In the 21st century world of ultra-competitive advertising, companies seek competitive advantage for their products and services. A frequent strategy is to enter into a partnership with another brand.

Why partner? The answer is simple to achieve mutual benefit, putting it in other terms “synergistic momentum.” Both partners leverage each other’s expertise and resources to build something larger than the sum of its parts. When companies partner together, they provide one another with new customers and new markets.

This story takes place after the reign of Solomon when his kingdom was divided. The ten northern tribes are called Israel and the two southern tribes are called Judah.

Jehoshaphat king of Judah was a good man, but he had several lapses in judgment. His biggest mistake was trusting Ahab and allying with him. He did not think it through. But of greatest importance he did not seek the Father’s counsel. The alliance was an awful idea. Jehoshaphat almost paid for it with his life.

Ahab was a real piece of work. He was evil, plotting, conniving, and deceitful. He was a corrupting influence. He would literally stab you in the back. Take away: Be wary of bad amigos. Although the telling of the story is a bit long, the speaks for itself.

What did Ahab do? He invited Jehoshaphat to come to Samaria and hang out. Presumably, Ahab turned it into a grandiose affair full of pomp and circumstance. Picture Jehoshaphat and his royal entourage with security troops marching into Samaria. Trumpets blaring, large crowds cheering, the Royal Orchestra of Samaria strikes up the equivalent of “Hail to the Chief.” It would have been epic.

Undoubtedly, it would have gone right to Jehoshaphat’s head. His yarmulke probably stretched 2 or 3 sizes as his head swelled. But Ahab was only getting started. He wined and dined Jehoshaphat. Ahab presumably flattered Jehoshaphat with complements and obsequious accolades. Jehoshaphat became completely caught up in the moment.

Ahab had planted the hook. At the right moment, he yanked the string. He enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to attack a mutual enemy. Foolishly, Jehoshaphat agreed. He neglected to confer with his current partner, the Father.

2 Chronicles 18:2-3

 2 Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him . . .

 3 “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.”

The Hebrew term translated entice, induce, persuade is suth. Suth has an underlying idea of cunningness. It commonly has an evil connotation. This is the verb that was used when Satan enticed David to take a census (1 Chronicles 21:1).

REFLECT & PRAY

“Flirtation with those in apostasy is flirtation with catastrophe” (Thompson).

Father strengthen me not to compromise my integrity and beliefs. May I be bold, courageous, and stand tall for the Truth. Strengthen me not succumb to peer pressure or the influence of ungodly authorities. The Father’s Truth alone is Truth.

INSIGHT

Perhaps Jehoshaphat was a bit loopy from the wine but was not completely impaired. Jehoshaphat had one condition. He wanted to know what the Father had to say about going to war. The decision to turn to the Lord for guidance was a bit late in coming.

2 Chronicles 18:4 Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the LORD says.”

Ahab was not on good terms with the Father’s true prophets. He disdained them because they always told the truth. So he summoned 400 of his own prophets, guys who he had in his pocket. He knew they would give him the answer that he wanted.

2 Chronicles 18:5 So the king of Israel [Ahab] summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”

Although Jehoshaphat’s less than stellar judgment with the pinch of pride had got him into the present situation. Mercifully he was not totally hoodwinked by every outright lie and subterfuge. As they say, he may have been born at night, but he had not been born “last night.”

But thankfully for Jehoshaphat, false prophets would just not do. He insisted on hearing from a true prophet of the Lord. Knowing what the truth sounds like, spoils you. Hearing the truth provides a built-in guard against deception and lies.

Those who are used to handling the truth, the Word of God have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

2 Chronicles 18:6 Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the LORD here? We should ask him the same question.”

Ahab acquiesced but was not pleased. He hated Father’s prophets. He felt that they had it in for him. Whenever he consulted them, they always gave him bad news. Go figure!

2 Chronicles 18:7 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the LORD for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah.”

Jehoshaphat was a bit appalled by Ahab’s response. Perhaps the dulling effect of the wine was wearing off. He replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say” (2 Chronicles 18:7).

Reluctantly, Ahab sent for Micaiah. But in the process, Ahab’s guy tried to put in the fix. He pressed Micaiah to give the same prediction as the false prophets. Micaiah would have nothing to do with it. That’s one of the things about the Father’s prophets, they tend to be harder than flint and do not back down from proclaiming the truth.

2 Chronicles 18:8, 12-13

 8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah.”

 13 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

 13 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the LORD lives, I will say only what my God says.”

The Father calls His prophets, “my servants.” They only say what He tells them to say. They do not add, take away, or alter His words. The Father’s words are the plumbline by which everything is to be measured.

At this juncture, Micaiah was well aware of what was going on. Micaiah resorts to a bit of sanctified sarcasm.

 2 Chronicles 18:14, 15

 14 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for you will have victory over them!”

 15 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the LORD?”

Well, Ahab was not stupid either, well not that stupid. And he knew that Micaiah was not saying what the Father had revealed to him. He cries a few crocodile tears. He then calls out Micaiah. So Micaiah comes clean and tells the rest of the story.

2 Chronicles 18:16 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision, I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”

Micaiah clearly prophesied Ahab’s death. Bad news, just what Ahab anticipated.

Ahab was not amused. He had mixed emotions. Now that he heard the truth, He was frustrated but also somewhat fearful. But mainly, he was just angry. When he asked for the truth, it was simply another ploy. He had no interest in hearing from the Father. Ahab had Micaiah arrested and put on bread and water.

2 Chronicles 18:25-26

 25 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered.

 26 Give them this order from the king “Put this man in prison and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!”

Ahab underscored his hatred of Micaiah by to Jehoshaphat.

2 Chronicles 18:17 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

But Micaiah was not done.

2 Chronicles 18:27 Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the LORD has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”

In the 20th century, “Mark my words” was modified into a new phrase and popularized by Clint Eastwood, A.K.A. Dirty Harry, “But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”

Ahab was not feeling lucky. His unbelieving heart was blinded.

“If you play with fire, you get burned.”

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The place of highest honor

The place of highest honor

God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names. – Philippians 2:9

Colossians 1:15-22

 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,

 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

The president of the United States has the privilege of recognizing those who are considered the “best of the best” civilians in America.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy conceived the institution of awarding The Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Typically the medal is bestowed upon the recipient by the sitting president who has chosen them. Between 1963 and 2021, more Than 550 civilians had been so honored. Two people, Ellsworth Bunker and Colin Powell were two-time recipients.

The award symbolizes an idea that anyone, no matter their origin or standing in society can live out the highest, most noble ideals. In doing so, they inspire others to do likewise.

Does the Lord Jesus Christ deserve the place of highest honor and devotion? If an American president were around in the first century, would he have presented The Presidential Medal of Freedom to Him? Would His meritorious contributions to humanity, to world peace, to cultural or other significant endeavors warranted it? In all honesty, I suppose it would matter who the President was.

But in fact, the question is irrelevant. Because the Most High God, the highest existing authority has already granted Him the place of highest honor. The Father has proclaimed for all eternity that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is above all other names. In an act of total submission to the Father and total dedication to the eternal salvation of the human race, the Lord Jesus Christ chose to die for the sins of the world. He achieved reconciliation between the holy, pure, and righteous Father and sinful, fallen, tainted humanity. He established peace between heaven and on earth.

He demonstrated the accuracy and efficacy of His teaching for all to follow.

Luke 14:11 Those who humble themselves will be exalted.

REFLECT & PRAY

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.

Father strengthen me to give and maintain the Lord Jesus Christ the place of highest honor in my life.

INSIGHT

Very often the value of the gift is not based upon its cost, but rather its source. That is why so many people hold in high esteem heirlooms that they have handed down to them from cherished family members. They have great sentimental value, regardless of their monetary value.

How can the worth be measured of eternal life, forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, and adoption into the Father’s Forever Family? These free gifts have been bestowed by the Son of God upon all those who believe in Him. The Father has revealed Himself through His Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

Colossians 2:9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

2 Corinthians 4:4 Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Regarding the work of redemption, as far as the Father and the Son are concerned, “It is finished.” All that was needed has been done and made ready and available to all who accept it. If the Christian faith was summed up with one word, it would be the word DONE. If all of the other religions in the world were summed up with one word, it would be DO (Greg Laurie).

All that children of the King receive from the Father is freely given. We do not work for nor do we earn it. It is all grace.

The 1964 Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria. The British two-man bobsled team finished their first run and were in second place. As they prepared for their second run, they realized that a bolt was broken. Without it, they would be disqualified and out of the competition.

Eugenio Monti of Italy, one of the most successful athletes in winter sports, with 10 world championships and 6 Olympic medals became aware of the problem. He lent Team Britain a bolt from off his sled. The British team fixed their sled and went on to win the gold medal. Team Italy finished third.

It was an incredible gesture of unselfishness and the best-known performance of Monti’s sporting career. When queried, Eugenio Monti replied, “Nash didn’t win because I gave him the bolt. He won because he had the fastest run.”

Because of his magnanimous act, Monti was awarded the De Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship by the International Olympic Committee. He was its first recipient. The committee recognizes athletes who demonstrate the true spirit of sportsmanship. Olympians consider it the highest honor possible. There is no specialized training regimen designed to prepare people to win this award, except of course the high personal values and good decisions made in life itself.

Although the Lord Jesus Christ was God, He did not think of equality with God as something He had to hold on to. Rather He gave up His divine privileges, became a human being, and assumed the humble position of a slave. He further humbled himself in total submission to the Father’s will and died a criminal’s death. Consequently, the Father highly exalted Him and gave Him the place of highest honor and a name above all other names.

The Lord Jesus Christ received recognition and the applause of heaven. He showed the way for all children of the King. Those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).

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The everywhere-nowhere future

The everywhere-nowhere future

Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. – Isaiah 65:17

2 Peter 3:12-13

 12 Looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.

 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

The story is told of a recorded phone call to customer support that went through to an employee’s home when the strict shelter-in-place, work-from-home regulations were in effect during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Client: “No! This is unacceptable. I want to speak to one of your superiors”

Customer support: “Moooom!”

2020 saw the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning, no one knew exactly what was happening or how to respond. However, major life changes were required. In addition to commonly used terms such as quarantine and home offices, new terms and ideas were added to the jargon of the world’s languages: social distancing, shelter in place, work from home.

Many business owners and employees are forced to move their workspace to their homes. Classroom education shifted to online classes powered by Zoom, Microsoft teams, Skype, and the like.

Almost overnight, that which was considered somewhat of an extremely futuristic dream suddenly became a reality. The world would never again be the same and a new epithet entered the mainstream: the everywhere-nowhere future.

Throughout human civilization, people lived where they labored. In 2020, more than 90 percent of Americans drove to work, and their average commute was about 27 minutes. Urban economics is based upon this connection. Remote work weakens and ultimately severs it. Spatial proximity is replaced by cloud-based connectivity.

An important outcome of the pandemic was not that we learned how to use Zoom, but rather we were forced to learn how to use Zoom. “Telecommunications doesn’t have to be the perfect substitute for in-person meetings, as long as it’s mostly good enough. For the most part, remote work just works” (Derek Thompson).

In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. highway system was constructed. It allowed higher-income families to move from downtowns to the distant suburbs. In the 2020s, Zoom, and the like, will spread out the population even more.

Silicon Valley is forever altered. Rather than referring to a specific place or geographical location, Silicon Valley is now dispersed across many localities. The metro hub could become obsolete as companies embrace the reality of a permanently distributed workforce. Could the next Silicon Valley be everywhere and nowhere?

After 2020 the city in the cloud will become a more accessible version of the city on the Earth. It will be driven by agglomeration, specialization, and convenience. The future of the workplace is everywhere-nowhere

REFLECT & PRAY

Matthew 24:30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens . . .. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Father what an amazing future You have in store for all children of the King. From Your perspective, the future is now. Increase the joy of Your presence in our lives a bit more day by day.

INSIGHT

Children of the King already live in parallel realities. We are citizens of Earth and citizens of heaven at the same time. In a sense, we dwell in an Earth-based city and a cloud-based city simultaneously. But in reality, it is quite different. Rather than being everywhere-nowhere, it is an everywheresomeone actuality.

The Father is everywhere (omnipresent) at once. Wherever the Father is, children of the King are with Him in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:20).

Ephesians 2:4-6

 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,

 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

At the same time, a future physical kingdom is coming to Earth. One day the Lord Jesus Christ will return and reign as Messiah and King over the promised kingdom of God. This however is only temporary, a 1000 years (Revelation 20).

The kingdom of God on earth, in turn, will be replaced by a New Heavens and New Earth and a city that is simultaneously cloud-based and earthbound. Spatial proximity with the Lord Jesus Christ and cloud-based connectivity will exist congruently for eternity.

Revelation 21:1-3

 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.

 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.”

Psalms 24:10 Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven’s Armies – he is the King of glory.

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Jonah master pouter ∙

Jonah master pouter

Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen. – Jonah 4:3

Exodus 34:6-7

 6 The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

 7 lavishing unfailing love to a thousand generations. Forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

When things do not go your way, it is your choice how you respond. Pouting is one of the poor choices which carries over from the Terrible Twos. Children occasionally pout when they do not get their way. We have all seen it. They sit with their arms crossed with a sad, hurt look on their face. A pouty face, with a frown, is donned. The lips pushed out (usually just the bottom lip). Unfortunately, some two-year-olds never grow up and simply become pouting adults. Some even go on to earn a Ph.D. in pouting.

Pouting is acting in a gloomy and irritated way. It often includes moping or sulking. A successful pout requires that you master the correct facial expressions and body language to carry it off.

Position your mouth. Try sticking your bottom lip out just a little. You may want to practice in the mirror first because if you overdo it, you end up looking like a fish!

To get your mouth position right, try saying the word “blue.” It will force your lips forward into a pouty position. If you can, include quivering your lower lip. This will make you look like you are about to cry. Drop your head slightly showing vulnerability.

During a sad pout, emotion is expressed in your whole body, not just your face. Additional techniques include slouching your shoulders a bit and loosely crossing your arms in front of you. 

If and when you talk, use an angry voice. To sell the emotion, talk loudly, repeating the same phrases, and laugh sarcastically. You can also try stomping your feet, closing doors loudly, and making other loud noises to make your point or get attention.

However, rather than words, pouting often involves just a bit of a sigh, followed by sulking facial expressions, and then moody silence.

The worst part about pouting is those times when no one notices you are pouting. This results in even greater annoyance and vexation.

Pouting is an outward expression of inward selfishness.

Jonah was the master pouter of Israel.

Reluctantly Jonah finally delivers the Father’s warning message of the coming judgment of Nineveh

Jonah 3:3-4

 3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.

 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”

What did the Assyrians do? They repented from their sins and sought forgiveness from the Father, the Lord God of Israel (Jonah 3:5–9).

What did Jonah do? Did he praise the Lord for their change of heart? Absolutely not! He was furious. This is what he was afraid of all along. The Assyrians had a terrible reputation for overpowering, capturing, and butchering their opponents.

Jonah feared that at the hands of the Assyrians, it might happen to Israel. In his mind what seemed best for the nation of Israel was pretty straightforward. The Assyrians should be judged and destroyed by the Father. Problem solved.

God forbid that they would repent and seek forgiveness. If they did so, how would the Father respond? Worst case, He would relent and cancel the judgment the Assyrians so richly deserved. Jonah blurted out an angry, whiny prayer.

Jonah 4:1-3

 1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.

 2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.

 3 Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

In prayer, Jonah reveals why he initially refused the Father’s order to go to Nineveh and confront them. Jonah knew that the Father was merciful and compassionate. Sure enough, the worst possible scenario played out. Why was Jonah angry with the Father? Jonah was angry at Him for being merciful and compassionate. He was angry at Him for being Himself and acting it out. He is slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness. He lavishes loving kindness on the undeserving and forgives iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

REFLECT & PRAY

Rather than following the plan that the Father has for us, we devise our own. Do we really think that we know better than He does?

Father help me to hear and to obey Your voice. Encourage me not to pout but rather rejoice in Your loving, forgiving heart. Where would I be without it?

INSIGHT

The word translated upset or displeased is raa in Hebrew. It means to be bad, not fit for use, be evil, displeasing, discontented, or repulsive. The word translated angry is charah in Hebrew. It means to burn or be kindled with anger, furious.

Jonah is furious with the Father. He finds the Father’s actions repulsive. He takes it upon himself to confront the Lord God Almighty. This is always a bad idea. At best it is a no-win situation. At worse, really bad things can happen.

Surely, Jonah must have thought out loud something like this, “You called me to be a prophet and then You go and do this? It makes no sense. If this is the way it really is, I would rather be dead.”

Rather startling, yes? But upon reflection, we realize that we have thought or said exactly the same thing when we do not get our own way.

The Father’s response is sharp and penetrating. He confronts Jonah with a piercing question.

Jonah 4:4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Rather than answering, Jonah becomes passive-aggressive and pouts in solitude.

Jonah 4:5 Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city.

From Jonah’s viewpoint, the Father did not get it right. Sparing the Assyrians was just wrong. Jonah with smug arrogance, “graciously” gives the Father another chance in the hopes that this time He will get it right. Jonah is waiting for the judgment to fall. Jonah has no compassion. He seeks only the condemnation and destruction of his enemies.

Jonah’s audacity, thoughts, and actions are over the top. Yet who among us has not thought or done something very similar. It is all too human to condemn others for their shortcomings and sins but to simultaneously dismiss our own. On the other hand, the Father offers grace, mercy, and forgiveness to those that do not deserve it.

Each child of the King is on that list of evildoers. Praise God!

John 8:7 Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.

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Jonah reluctant prophet ∙

Jonah reluctant prophet ∙

As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. – Jonah 2:7

Jonah 2:1-10

 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.

 2 He said, I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!

 3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.

 7 When my life was ebbing away, I called out to the LORD.

 9 I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.

 10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

The original Skid Row was a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles covering over 50 city blocks immediately east of downtown.

Now the term “skid row” refers to an area of a city where people live who are “on the skids,” which derives from a logging term. Loggers would transport their logs to a nearby river by sliding them down roads made from greased skids. Loggers who had accompanied the load to the bottom of the road would wait there for transportation back up the hill to the logging camp.

The term began to be used for places where people with no money and nothing to do gathered, becoming the generic term in English-speaking North America for a depressed area in a city.

Jonah was “on the skids.” Sometimes we only see the light when we are in abject darkness. Despair can and often does lead to repentance. Jonah had slid down the slippery skids of the whale’s gullet. He was in total darkness. Upon reflection, his hardened stubborn heart began to soften.

Jonah had thought he could rebel and defy the Father without consequence. He had thought it could flee and somehow escape. But he was not paying attention. He forgot with Whom he was dealing. Worse he forgot what the Father had unequivocally declared regarding rebellion and stubbornness. It is unlikely that Jonah would ever consider practicing witchcraft or worshiping idols, but . . ..

1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.

Disobeying the word of God is extremely serious, and not to be taken lightly. How much worse is it to disobey the Father’s instructions when He speaks directly to you. Jonah did not get it, until now. In the darkness, he finally sees the light. His near-death experience produces newness of life. Finally, he gets the message, stubborn resistance to the Father’s direction produced collateral damage far beyond what Jonah could have ever imagined.

Jonah 2:2 I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!

Remember his circumstances. He was wracked with fear and stuck in hot, fetid darkness. Jonah hit bottom and was in the throes of anguish and despair. The Father’s fishy fix finally kicked in. Old memories stirred and he recalled the Father’s loving, loyal, merciful and compassionate heart. Jonah now has confidence that the Father would deliver him despite everything. He repents. He turns his heart fully to the Lord.

Jonah was called to be a prophet. At last, he is now willing to serve the Father with his whole heart no matter what. Issues still remain that are exposed and resolved before the book ends. But that’s a story for another day.

While he is in the depths of despair, the Father offers Jonah a second chance.

Jonah 3:1-3

 1 Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time.

 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and deliver the message I have given you.”

 3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.

When the Father attempts to communicate, take the call. The first words out of your mouth should be: “Here I am, what would you have your servant do?” (Genesis 22:1, Exodus 3:4, 1 Samuel 3:4, Isaiah 6:8, Acts 9:10)

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father is the God of second chances. He never gives up on us. He is faithful! If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Father there is so much of Jonah within me. I catch glimpses of him now and then. Thank You for dealing with me kindly and mercifully. Encourage me to serve You with my whole heart.

INSIGHT

In our fallen natural state, we are essentially selfish. We live to please ourselves. The Father is motivated by pure and total love. His lovingkindness compels Him. The Father graciously reaches out to every child of the King. There is nothing about us that commends us to Him. He wants us to become like Him. Jonah’s journey is our journey.

2 Corinthians 5:14-18  

 14 Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

“A Jonah lurks in every Christian heart, whispering his insidious message of smug prejudice, empty traditionalism, and exclusive solidarity. And we grasp the message of the book only when we eliminate the Jonah within us” (Leslie Allen).

Deuteronomy 30:19 I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live.

When our lives are out of harmony with the Father, we are out of tune. Our lives are in discord. We do not have music but noise in our souls. When we return to the Father and walk with Him, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs flood our hearts (Richison) (Ephesians 5:19).

At any time, the Father may bring dissonance into our lives. When it happens, it is not pleasant. But the Father is following an eternal blueprint worked out before He established the foundations of the Earth. We do not know all the factors as to why He does this; however, there is one thing that we do know, “the Father is too good to do wrong and He is too wise to make a mistake (Richison).

Haggai 2:19 Yet from this day on I will bless you.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your lives.

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