Self Serving

“Self Serving”

Jonah 3:3                                                                    6/22/14

Two things must happen in order for revival to happen in our lives personally and in the world corporately.

First, we must be obedient to God’s will in general.

 All that we know that God wants us to do—being honest, treating other people with love and respect—in short, always doing the right thing, for the Scripture says “to love your neighbor as yourself.” Secondly, we have to obey the Word of the Lord specifically. “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.” (Jonah 3:3) Until the Holy Spirit has full control of our lives, we will never experience the fullness of God’s presence.

We have to willingly relinquish the throne of our heart; that is, the “kingdom of self”. Ironically, the greatest hindrance to our happiness and abundant living is we ourselves. That is why Jesus said, “If anyone will come after Me, he must deny himself and take up the cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) God will never force us to follow Him. We must choose to do it willingly. God will speak to us about offenses we have held towards others, about our language and about the practices that we do that are not pleasing to Him.  The Holy Spirit will prick our conscience if we are doing things or saying things we should not. God cleanses and purifies our lives so that He can fill us with the fruit of His Spirit:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

When God’s Spirit abides in us, we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16) Once we can hear God’s voice clearly, then we can obey His specific plan for our lives. For Jonah, God’s specific will was to go to Nineveh and preach the message God gave him. In doing this, God would release His Spirit in a powerful way and change the hearts of the wicked people of Nineveh. Jonah’s preaching alone could not bring about this dramatic change; only God’s Spirit could. Our lives can be used in a similar way to effect change in the lives of those around us, if God has complete control.

Obedience to God will revive you AND revive those around you.

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Boaz: The Kinsman-Redeemer

“Boaz: The Kinsman-Redeemer”

6/15/14

Book of Ruth       

The Book of Ruth is a love story about a foreign Moabite girl named Ruth and a “prince” named Boaz.

Ruth’s first husband died, leaving her penniless and without a protector. She resettled in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s love for God and Naomi was evident; Ruth was called a “woman of noble character.” God drew Ruth to Bethlehem and specifically to a wealthy man named Boaz, who happened to be a close relative of Naomi. Ruth worked for food by gleaning the leftovers of wheat after it had been harvested. Providentially, Ruth ended up in the fields that belonged to Boaz, and she found favor in his eyes. Boaz blessed Ruth and took good care of her during the harvest. Boaz and Ruth fell in love. Boaz, who was an older gentleman, said to Ruth, “The Lord bless you, my daughter. This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier. You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.” Boaz married Ruth and gave her his name and made her a co-heir to all of his estate. In a single moment, Ruth was transformed from a destitute woman to a co-heir with a prince. Their son, Obed, was in the genealogical line of Christ.

In this story, Boaz is the picture of Jesus, who is our kinsman-redeemer. We who draw near to Christ, not running after the lusts of this world, will become His bride. With that union, we receive all the rights and the privileges of being the bride of God’s Son, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Immediately, all of our debts and transgressions are cancelled. We receive the unfiltered love of God, our Father, and his Son, and ultimately, a mansion in glory and a crown of righteousness! Every spot and wrinkle will be made clean, and we will be the beautiful, radiant bride of Christ.

Fortunately, this love story that ends happily ever after

is no fairy tale.

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The God of the Second Chance

“The God of the Second Chance”

6/8/14

Jonah, Chapter 3

            “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (Jonah 3:1). God could easily have given up on Jonah but He didn’t. And in the same way,

God never gives up on us. Praise the Lord!

The Bible says the Lord is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) God could have chosen someone else who was more willing but He wanted Jonah to fulfill the purpose that He had designed for him. God told Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” This is exactly what God told Jonah to do the first time before Jonah ran away from the Lord. God’s plan for your life never changes- it can only get altered or delayed by our disobedience. Without knowing the Lord, you will never know the full purpose of your life. But in knowing the Lord, His will should be the supreme focus of our life. As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) So Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Jonah may have been concerned about the message. How would he be received? Would the people of Nineveh accept the message or reject it? Would they be hostile to him and persecute him? But Jonah needed only to concern himself with proclaiming the Lord’s message and leaving the results to God. Many of us deal with the same concerns that Jonah feared. We shouldn’t worry about what other people will say and whether they accept the message or reject it. Jesus said, “He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) When God sends us on His errand, we should not fear personal rejection- that is the enemy trying to silence the Holy Spirit. We are on God’s errand, just as Jonah was. And the results, if we are obedient, will be amazing.

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Jonah’s Provision

“Jonah’s Provision”

6/1/14

Jonah Chapter 2

            In spite of Jonah’s rebellion, the word says “the Lord provided” for Jonah. After the sailors threw Jonah into the sea that would have caused certain death, God provided a rescue plan. In His infinite wisdom and imagination, God “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17). The unthinkable and unimaginable has now occurred for Jonah: A great fish has swallowed him and he is now going to the bottom of the sea. And Jonah stayed “inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). This internment was a living hell for Jonah, but he was still alive. Now it’s time for Jonah to do what the sailors had previously done: “To cry out to the Lord” (Jonah 1:14).

Sometimes we don’t know how rough life can be until we rebel against God. But now Jonah knew. Jonah knew for the first time what it is like to have the hand of God against him. And this is what Jonah found out first hand: How gracious and merciful God can be- “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me” (Jonah 2:1). Intercessory prayer is about God hearing you and answering you. Jonah knew this was all his fault and now he was paying the price for his rebellion. The interesting thing here is that Jonah’s direction in his life has now changed 180 degrees. Jonah got on a ship to “run away from the Lord” and now he is calling on the name of the Lord. Jonah is running back to the God he was just running away from and God rescued him. The scriptures say, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

There is no sin so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. This is not a story about a great prophet with great faith. It is a story about a great and awesome God whose love and compassion goes beyond the comprehension of our minds. If you, like Jonah, have blown it, remember there is no sin so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. 

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Jonah Calms the Storm

“Jonah Calms the Storm”

5/25/14

Jonah Chapter 1

Jonah had been asleep through a terrible storm that

threatened to destroy the ship he was on until the captain came and woke him up.

First the captain rebuked Jonah and then the sailors rebuked him. They said, “Let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” The Bible warns us “that your sins will find you out” (1 Chronicles 32:23), and this happened to Jonah.

The pressure for Jonah to man up and repent was now coming from pagan people and not from God directly. God has a way of orchestrating circumstances to send His message to our hearts. As the sailors questioned Jonah, Jonah revealed who he was and who God was: “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the land.”

The sailors believed that what Jonah was saying was true because the Scriptures say that this “terrified them.” Maybe for the first time, these sailors were beginning to believe that their idols were not the same as Jonah’s God. The sailors had already run out of options—they prayed to their gods and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship, but nothing worked. So they asked Jonah, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

Jonah said, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm.” However, the sailors were more concerned for Jonah than Jonah had been about the people of Nineveh. The sailors tried to save Jonah by rowing back to the land. But the storm was too great, so they did what Jonah said and threw him into the sea. The storm calmed down, and the ship was saved. This caused these pagan sailors to worship God. “At this, the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and

 made vows to him.” Jonah’s repentance started a change in him and in the men around him.

These people would have never known the Lord if it weren’t for Jonah. How does your walk with the Lord impact others?

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How Can You Sleep?

“How Can You Sleep?”

5/18/14

Jonah set out on a course of defiance against the Lord when he refused to go to Nineveh to preach against it. In running away from God, Jonah ran into a storm that would have destroyed him. “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 1:4) Jonah’s rebellion put him into a spiritual slumber where the Scripture says, “he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.” When we are in rebellion to God’s call on our life, we too will fall into a “deep sleep.” The world may be falling apart around us, but we seem to be oblivious to the needs of others. “All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god.” But while all of this was going on, Jonah was in a deep sleep. While the sailors were throwing the cargo overboard, Jonah continued to sleep. If the captain had not awoken Jonah, the ship may have sunk and all on board would have perished including Jonah. God used a pagan captain to wake up Jonah. This story could be a parable for the church and the world of today. A violent storm has come upon the world that is threatening to destroy its very

existence– economically, socially, emotionally– violence is rampant and nobody feels safe, yet the church is sleeping. At some point, a pagan captain will shake the church and ask, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God! Maybe He will take notice of us and we will not perish.” (Jonah 1:6) Jonah had the power to calm the storm and save the doomed ship even if he didn’t know it. The church has been given the same authority and power, but we must exercise it so God may accomplish His will. We are not sideline spectators in this spiritual battle. We are active participates out on the field. God is awakening the church for such a time as this.

Will you answer the call?

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Hannah’s Prayer

“Hannah’s Prayer”

5/11/14

Hannah was a woman who could not have children because “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5). Like Abraham and Sarah, having a child meant more than life itself yet Hannah was unable to conceive. As Isaac would be the seed that would birth the nation Israel, so Samuel would be the seed to bring Israel back to God. It was through Hannah’s prayer that all of this came about: “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow to the Lord saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon Your servant’s misery and remember me and not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give Him to the Lord for all the days of His life’” (1 Samuel 1:10-11). God uses the pain in our heart to birth incredible things. God sees every tear that we shed and knows every ache in our heart. God had a plan for Hannah and an even greater plan for Israel. God would grant Hannah’s request and “she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him,’” (1 Samuel 1:20). Hannah’s sacrifice would revive a nation that had lost its way. Samuel would be the last and greatest of Israel’s judges. Samuel would bridge the gap between the time of the judges and the first and second king of Israel- King Saul and King David. Hannah and Israel would never be the same because of Hannah’s desire to have a son. And when Hannah gave back her most precious gift to the Lord, God gave Hannah three sons and two daughters in his place. We can never out give God. He knows the cry of our heart. You can trust Him with your greatest treasure. Give God your greatest desire and dreams and see what He will do. The scripture says, “Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5).

Let God turn your prayer into a time of rejoicing!

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