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The Heart of the Matter

“And I am so angry I wish I were dead.”  Jonah 4:9

I’ve shared before about the miraculous year I had doing God’s will during our 100 Lunches project.  When Jesus first spoke to me, directing me to make 100 lunches and deliver them to the homeless in downtown San Diego I had no idea the lessons He had in store for me.  Initially, I thought it was just a need that He directed me to fill.  My spiritual gifts were perfect to complete this task – or so I thought.  What began as a one-time submission to God became a year-long lesson in trust, compassion, faithfulness and humility.  Definitely not traits I would’ve confidently listed amongst my gifts.

With each passing day that year, God placed new trials and new opportunities for me to finally grasp what He really wanted of me.  I could administer any program at my church, work or other organization.  I’m organized, comfortable with leadership, a successful multitasker, and can teach readily.  As long as I was in charge life was good, so it seemed.  Until someone was unhappy with me or disagreed with me.  Or I hurt someone’s feelings.  Or I felt overlooked and unappreciated.  Praying came after the fall, if at all.

But the Spirit of God came upon me that fateful day.  I like to think of God seeing my potential.  My new beginning.  And He knew with some pruning and care I could shake off many of my old ways and start working on new ones.  Starting with praying to Him to help me make the change.  And learning that God wants our heart first, above all, so that it’s our heart that pours out to the world.

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:2-3

The story of Jonah and the whale rank up there with Noah and his ark as being widely known by Christians and non-Christians alike.  Jonah tried to get away from God, jumped overboard, was swallowed by a giant fish, prayed to God and God spit him out onto the shore.  A nice story of turning back to God in faith, right?  But in these four little chapters there’s so much more!  There are lessons on being a “I’m fine, it’s fine” sleepy Christian.  Lessons like Moses experienced when he told God he wasn’t up for the job.  Lessons on how one person can help save so many.  

Jonah was actually a man of great faith.  He knew that if he went to Nineveh, a sworn enemy of the Jews and well-known for its evil ways, God would most likely use him to rescue the people there.  But Jonah’s patriotism got in the way of his faith.  So, he resigned as God’s prophet.  He didn’t want his new beginning to look like betrayal back home.  But God gets His way no matter how hard we try to thwart Him!  

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah 3:3

So yes, Jonah sees how amazing His God is while sitting in the mouth of a giant fish and prays, remembering how God saved him before and asking for him to do it again.  And Jonah finds himself once more pressed on toward Nineveh.

While there he spreads God’s message that in 40 days the city would be destroyed because of their wicked ways.  But there’s something missing.  Within this story you will not find a message from Jonah on how to stop this destruction.  You won’t find compassion and love for these 1,000s of people.  He states the fact, does it efficiently and without pause.  In three days this one man had reached the ears of every citizen, including the king.  Pretty impressive right?  And although God loved the fact that they believed and turned from their evil ways you can’t help but think the real target of this lesson was just one man – Jonah.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. Jonah 3:10-4:1

Jonah had the gifts of prophecy, faith, evangelism and apparently administration.  And he begrudgingly used them.  Where God saw an amazing new beginning as a man who could help bring so many to faith, Jonah saw embarrassment and shame.  He didn’t want to go home to face his people who hated the Nineveh citizens and be known as a traitor.  He stopped remembering that God loves everyone and God can work miracles in all our lives, even our enemies.

In chapter 4, Jonah is like the Prodigal Son’s elder brother – critical, selfish, sullen, angry and unhappy with what was going on.  It isn’t enough for God’s servants simply to do their Master’s will; they must do “the will of God from the heart.” Eph 6:6

Warren Wiersbe

So as Jonah sits on the hill outside town in the last chapter of this amazing story God takes another shot at softening Jonah’s heart.  He provides another lesson for him to experience and learn.  Because God is love He doesn’t give up on us.  He wants our new beginnings to be filled with love and compassion.  I love this quote from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on Jonah:

“The deeper your trouble, the greater are your possibilities of adoration.”

When I first went into our 100 Lunches project, I was certain I could complete this simple task with efficiency and ease like Jonah.  But God put me on the hill, overlooking all that I had done that first week and said, “You have much more to learn.”  

With each distribution of lunches He said, “do it again, this time like this.”  He showed me how to be ok with people turning me down when I asked for help.  And how to be grateful when people came out of nowhere to help. He taught me how to slow down and look the hurting in the eye and offer a kind word or even a gentle touch.  He reminded me to trust in Him, to love Him.  He answered prayers which encouraged me to pray even more.  He allowed me to be loved by society’s “unwashed”, giving me the opportunity to tell them of God’s glory and provision. 

Jonah’s story ends without a word from him letting us know he “got it.”  His last lines are the first in this look at Jonah – “I wish I were dead.”  God’s last words are about His love and care for all people – no matter their nationality, financial status, religion, or sins.  Think of the amazing new life Jonah could’ve had when he left Nineveh.  Not just knowing about God, not just having faith that God is in charge.  But loving God and loving the fact that He wants us to live like Him, in love.  

Jonah’s faith was a divided one.  He held onto his patriotism and pride with a vengeance.  It caused him to withhold his love and compassion.  When we think of the Bible’s greatest lessons about love, 1 Corinthians 13 probably comes to mind. In verses 4-13 Paul tells us what love is. So many think these passages are about romantic love but in the context of the entire letter it’s about how we serve out God’s will with our gifts. In a way, the more important lessons are in verses 1-3. The lesson God was trying to teach Jonah. The lesson which can help us all in our new beginnings as God’s servants.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13: 1-3

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Healers

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8

I sat in my car after having just left yet another doctor’s appointment and announced out loud, “I hate doctors!”  One more doctor who treated me with some level of impatience all the while acknowledging I needed surgery.  But then I took a step back from my prideful emotions and realized this person – a man of flesh and blood – was gifted by God the ability to heal me.  I didn’t need him as a friend, I need him as a healer.  And I gave thanks for his able hands and depth of knowledge concerning my medical issue.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  John 5:8

I was reminded of the scene by the healing pool when Jesus encountered the invalid who had been laying by the pool for 38 years.  Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be healed?”  And then told him to get moving.  And I realized how much I expect my doctors to be the tender, compassionate Jesus.  But even Jesus himself was a no nonsense healer.  

My own daughter is a doctor of physical therapy.  She’s a pretty no nonsense kind of person.  She’s also very good at her job.   When her patients are done with treatments, or during the holidays, they shower her with loving, thoughtful gifts.  It’s because, while she is good at listening to their needs, what they truly want is healing and she delivers.

I’ve had kind doctors, rude doctors, dismissive doctors, attentive ones.  I have to admit that just about all of them have done what I needed them for – healing.  Doing something for me that I could never do myself.  So, while I may not like every doctor’s bedside manner, I can say a prayer while sitting in the “big chair” thanking God for their skill and for the healing that is to come.  And I pray for me to have patience and kindness in between. 

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We Say Yes

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

A few years ago, God put my faith listening ears and my trust in Him to the test.  He asked me to step outside my well-built comfort zone based on the pride of working.  For an unknown period of time, He directed me to feed the homeless with 100 lunches once a week.  He told me what to make and where to take the food.  He tested and challenged me week after week to put my complete faith in Him.  To stand resolutely with Him.  For almost a year I experienced a relationship with God like no other.  

As I wrote the other day, sometimes God asks us to stay silent.  Other times, like during His 100 Lunches Project, God asks us to step up and say, “Yes!”  And if we aren’t paying attention, aren’t tuned in to His character, aren’t sure that He is directing us, then we miss out on great gifts of intimacy with Him. 

The actual making of the first few weeks of lunches wasn’t so far out of my comfort zone.  I had enthusiastic helpers and a husband who supported my venture.  But as time passed and God kept calling, I was faced with having to be resolute in following Him.  For one, my husband thought this would be sort of a “one and done” activity.  Not a financial investment and something that would take up room in our already full garage.  He also was concerned for my safety as I ventured into potentially dangerous areas, at times alone.  I could have easily agreed with him on all counts and shut the program down.  But I knew God wanted me to stand firm.  So, as I explained to my husband, God was directing this project, not me, he relented with a few requests.  One being that if I didn’t go with someone that I would regularly check in via text.

And then there was my work schedule.  At the time I was a long term substitute in a school office.  I prided myself on always being on the schedule to work at one school or another.  It was my source of “happiness” that people needed me.  The direction I was getting from God was to give out lunches in the middle of the week.  Doing that would require me to tell the school I currently worked I couldn’t be there that day for an unknown period of time.  My fear was they would let me go.  And so, I prayed to God.  Asking Him to guide me and bolster me.  The day I spoke to the office secretary I told her, “I’m doing this lunch project, directed by God.  And I can’t work Wednesdays anymore.”  A weird thing to say,  for sure.  Especially in the more liberal area that I live.  The response?  “Sounds good.  We will take you any day you can work for us.”

That’s how the year went.  Door after door opened.  And some closed as needed.  I watched and listened for His Word.  And I did His work in His name.  It was glorious!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

The greatest lesson I learned that year was about trust.  Trusting in that when God speaks to us and gives us a challenge He will provide.  And any obstacle that is put in front of you, you can stand firm in who has your back.  That year I had many people scoff at what I was doing.  Family, friends, policemen, strangers.  But when you know that your mission is God-sent nothing should stop you.  You can be resolute.

So many of us Christians are sitting and waiting for God to call us to something special and yet we haven’t taken up the directions already laid out before us in God’s Holy Word.  We don’t need another whisper to tell us to be kind or forgiving.  We don’t need a tap on the shoulder to know how dangerous our gossiping tongue can be.  It’s all there in the Good Book waiting to be lived out.  We just need to take a stand for God.

The process of sanctification starts with the basics and moves on toward more and more challenges of trust.  When He sees we are obeying the small things He places more of His banquet in front of us.  But like the process of knowing when to stay silent we must be able to discern it is God, not our flesh, directing us.  I knew it was God asking me to embark on this grand project because it asked me to do things so in opposite of my own desires and yet followed perfectly His.

When you act for God you will have detractors.  You will have people that call you crazy.  You might even have people who get angry with you.  You might have to ask God to confirm you are on the right path.  And I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, when you are on that path, the work you do for Him will be seen by people who need to see it.  You just may never realize it.  

There were so many lessons for me in that year of 100 Lunches (which grew to about 300 per week!).  And one day in December of that year God said to me, “You are done. It’s time for something else.”  He closed that door and told me to stop.  Even then I needed to be resolute.  People chastised me for not continuing.  Someone got quite angry with me.  My response?  “This wasn’t my project to begin with, it was God’s.  He told me to be done so I am done.  But you are free to serve in my place.”

I mentioned in my last post about the story from Sparkling Gems from the Greek and listening to God’s voice.  I’d like to share with you the prayer from that day.

Lord, help me follow the Holy Spirit’s leading whenever He impresses me to do something.  I know there have been moments in my life when the Spirit was leading me to do something.  But because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t obey – and later I was always sorry.   Please help me become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to trust Him when He speaks to my heart.   I want to be obedient and to experience the supernatural life that He wants to give me!  I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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His Next Chapter

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

I was asked recently in a Bible study to list all the religious and “good works”  activities I do.  This included serving my family and friends.  After making the list we were then to write who we do those activities for – other people, ourselves, or God.  I have to admit that my list was mostly things I do for myself.  Including said Bible study.

How often do we go to church to “fill ourselves up?”  When we join a small group or Bible study is it in service to God or to help us learn more about ourselves?  Or worse still, out of some obligation?  When we clean our floors is it to please our spouses?  When we volunteer to help in the church childcare, usher, fill bags for the needy, is it to elevate ourselves or check off our boxes?

I recently had a bit of a perspective shift about why I should devote myself to my Bible studies.  In the past, I’ve taken the point of view that they help me either “fix myself” or learn more about God.  But what if instead we view our study time as just the first, necessary step to then fulfilling our obligations to God?  To be prepared for Him to use us in ways He has planned?  The last step isn’t to die daily to sin.  Our last step is to be His implements, His well trained workers. Like students at medical school. They take classes to become medical doctors. Students don’t stop at just the classes. They have a goal — to cure people.

Today I praise God for His expectations of us.  He expects us to learn how to lean on Him and trust Him.  He expects us to clean up our hearts and minds for Him.  But all that is in anticipation of Him sending us out to fulfill His plans.  

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  James 2:14

I’ve met Christians who, though they love the Lord and have worked on cleaning up their own house, have stopped at their own doorstep.  They are satisfied with not stepping forward and saying, “You’ve worked a good work in me and I’m ready for what you need of me.” 

It’s not enough for us to stop being prideful.  To stop seeking revenge.  To stop worrying.  To stop loving money.  We need to ask God, “What do you want me to do with this great thing you have done?”

And now that I’m thinking differently about God’s expectations, I’m looking at my time with God in a new light.  When I go to church, I want to learn more about Him and worship Him.  I want to actively thank God for allowing me to serve my family and friends in His name.  And I’m asking, ”what in this text or in this Bible study question can prepare me to serve Him?”  I don’t want to stop being a part of God’s plan at the end of the book.  I want to help Him write the next chapter of something new.


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Free At Last

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

There’s been a lot of talk (and screaming) about slavery the last few years.  Some people stating that relatives of people who were enslaved in the United States prior to 1862 – over 150 years ago – should receive financial contribution from people who have never owned a slave.  The details of this idea get quite complicated.  Which new government department will receive millions or billions of dollars in funding to manage this program?  How would it be proven someone was a relative of a slave? Would people whose relatives didn’t live in the United States prior to 1862 be required to contribute?  I saw one estimate, based on a city government’s financial proposal, that in the end the recipients would actually receive a paltry sum.

Is slavery bad?  Absolutely.  Does it go on still today in many forms? Yes.  As a Christian we should all know the dirty secret of slavery.  Our individual submission to sin causes the most destructive and widespread slavery of all – placing our souls in shackles.  In some cases, that sin leads to what we think of as “traditional” slavery – the illicit sex trade, illegal employment practices, and more.

There’s really only one answer to eradicating slavery – Jesus.  So today I praise God that He and He alone offers us freedom.  The true freedom we all need.  Freedom from the slavery of sin.

For me, I still have to work daily with God on not willingly putting back on the shackles of fear and worry and doubt.  Of pride and selfishness.  Of allowing my flesh to rule my life. Giving in to those sins causes me to treat others in very non Jesus-like ways.  When I focus on myself, I take my eyes off serving others and helping them out of slavery.  When my feelings are hurt, I want to hurt others.  When I’m really worried or afraid I might pour myself another drink.

Each day I turn to God and commune with Him He gives me strength to shake off those shackles.  Each day when tempted to fall back into my sin I can proclaim with Him that I am free at last no matter my physical circumstance.  For some, an extra $100 or so either given out of their pocket or given to their pocket might feel like enough. But for me, no amount of money can ever replace God’s gift of freedom.


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Are You Prepared?

Lesson #12: God’s kingdom will be established and we need to be prepared.

“But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; 
it will be holy.  Jacob will possess 
his inheritance.” 
Obadiah 1:17

My current BSG Bible study focuses solely on Easter and the days leading up to Jesus’ death.  The other day we were asked to read Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:19-20.  And if you do, you’ll find almost the same words written in each about Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in His final hours.  As Christians, we should be very familiar with what took place – the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine.   What I love about actually studying the Bible is you see all the ancient links back and forth and the promises for the future, supported by those fulfilled promises.  

While they were eating, Jesus took 
bread, and when he had given thanks, 
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, 
saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 
Then he took a cup, and when he had given 
thanks, he gave it to them, saying, 
“Drink from it, all of you. This is my 
blood of the covenant, which is poured 
out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  
I tell you, I will not drink from this 
fruit of the vine from now on until that 
day when I drink it new with you in my 
Father’s kingdom.”  
Matthew 26:26-29

“When I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Jesus is drinking from the traditional third cup of the Passover meal – the one representing the blood of an animal sacrificed for sins to be “passed over.”  He establishes not only himself as the sacrifice for all eternity for our sins but then gives us the promise of reuniting with us.

“The kingdom of God has come near.  
Repent and believe the good news!” 
Mark 1:15

You’ll notice throughout the Bible that we humans are warned of how we should behave, what the punishment will be, and in the end those who believe will receive great reward.  In the prophesy of Obadiah, the people of Edom received their warning of destruction because of pride, gloating, treachery, thievery, and violence.  Yet, they did not listen.

“Just as you drank on my holy hill, 
so all nations will drink continually; 
they will drink and drink and be as 
if they had never been.” 
Obadiah 1:16

Obadiah warns the people that what they sought for so richly would be turned against them with voracity.  Imagine now our current world.  And imagine all the sins turned against us two-fold.  The killing of millions of unborn children alone must make God so angry.  I can only imagine that we would be struck barren and childless in an instant.  And therefore, unable to continue creating new generations.

Thank God gives us the warnings.  And in heeding them we can then receive the glorious inheritance.

“Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” 

Alan Redpath

Yes, our kingdoms.  So many of us have built our own kingdoms on the hill – just like the people of Edom.  We look down on our fellow man with a smugness that “we have it all under control.” Our bank accounts are satisfactory, our marriages are holding together, our homes protect us.  And yet we are warned all this will be “stubble” (vs 18).  How many of us live with the anticipation of “Thy Kingdom Come?”

Because it will come.  You may be fortunate to be in a church where that is a focus of the teaching.  Where you are tasked to constantly be in a mode of preparation.  Where you are admonished to gather up as many people as possible for the kingdom.  I have yet to be in such a church.  And yet the entire Bible is a warning of the coming kingdom.  

If this last year, during the great pandemic, has taught me anything is that our earthly time is limited and we are tasked with no more greater act than preparing our hearts and minds for the coming kingdom.  Situations in which I find myself that are not godly become glaring reminders of the coming of Jesus.

How about instead — “Are you prepared?”

Throughout this last year we kept hearing the teaching, “Faith over fear.”  And yet fear held most of us captive.  And fear of what? Death?  If that was the case, as Christians we should have been at the front of the line shouting “hallelujah, our time has come!”  The signs on our churches should have asked, “Are you ready?”

And what of that readiness and our own kingdoms?  

The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work. Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

God has issued His warnings.  Just like with the people of Edom, He has called us to prepare for the onslaught of His power and might.  He has promised us the inheritance of the kingdom.  Are you in constant training?  Are you ready to be called up in an instant?  Which side of the battle lines will you be on?  

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A Tiny Message #7

"Tell the priests who carry 
the ark of the covenant: "When 
you reach the edge of the Jordan's 
waters, go and stand in it." 
Joshua 3:8

I was once asked by God to take on a year-long project. It wasn’t my idea. I hadn’t even been thinking about it. I recognized His request immediately as a test of my growth of faithfulness. What I have found is so many of us worry that we will look/sound silly, weird, or even crazy if we obey God’s directives.

Think about Joshua leading millions of Israelites into the promised land. He gets told by God to stand in the Jordan river with the ark of the covenant — which at that time of the year was at flood stage. The ark was their most valuable commodity and here was this “lunatic” telling the priests to go stand in the water with it.

What I have also found is that when, not only myself, but others obey God and set aside our pride, we don’t look foolish. We look victorious. We are victorious.

When I finally set aside my pride when it came to my relationship with my younger daughter, God smiled on us and created something I could have only imagined. We were victorious.

"But on Mount Zion will be 
deliverance; it will be holy, 
and Jacob will possess his 
inheritance." 
Obadiah 1:17

I want that victory for you. God wants to share in victory WITH you. So listen to His Word, hear His voice and step forward ready to win your battles.

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The Ripples of Pride

Lesson #10: Make Jesus the King of every aspect of your life, especially the parts you grasp tight control over.

“The pride of your heart has deceived 
you, you who live in the clefts of the 
rocks and make your home on the heights, 
you who say to yourself, “Who can bring 
me down to the ground?” 
Obadiah 1:3

My BSGs (Bible Study Girls) now know each others’ longstanding mini-kingdoms that we like to control.  When we are asked questions in various studies about our sins we laugh and say, “Oh, I can answer that for you!”  This is why I love these ladies.  We have opened our lives to each other in trust.  And, we expect to be held accountable for growth in our troublesome areas.  I, for one, had an epiphany a month ago about one of my mini kingdoms which brought me a bit of embarrassment along with conviction.

These last few months I’ve really struggled with how angry I become when I head out for all my errands.  My irritation and annoyance with people in general was heightened with the COVID related rules and fears.  I’d see a person alone in their car with a double breather mask on and wanted to roll down my window and scream at them.  The one-way rules for the grocery store aisles frustrated me when I found myself accidently going the wrong way and got dirty looks.  People were either too slow, too lazy, or too dumb – in my opinion.  I kept it all bottled up and would arrive home in turmoil.  And then one day, while doing my Bible study, it hit me.  My problem was pride.  

“When pride comes, then comes 
disgrace, but with humility comes 
wisdom.” 
Proverbs 11:2

Yep, I was being the queen of “Miss Know It All” land.  And I had to admit it to my group.  It wasn’t until that conviction hit me that God could then begin the re-building process.  I’m now praying each day I leave my house that the Holy Spirit will remind me to live as a loving, compassionate, forgiving person.

In this week’s small Bible book, we hear from the prophet Obadiah.  As prophets go, he’s not all that well known.  In fact, there’s quite a lot of disagreement about who he was and about what time period he prophesized.  But what we do know was he came to warn the people of Edom about their prideful ways.

Edom was a city from the line of Esau.  You might remember him as Jacob’s brother.  And ever since Jacob illicitly received Isaac’s family blessings there was enmity between the two brothers.  One of the great, longstanding feuds began that day.  

So, hundreds of years later we find ourselves in Edom, who conspired with Judah’s enemies to overthrow Jerusalem.  And God is not happy.

“Though you soar like the eagle and 
make your nest among the stars, from 
there I will bring you down, declares 
the LORD.” 
Obadiah 1:4

Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s people, some of whom actually had the cloud of God living among them, attempt to take control over every situation.  They conspired with enemies, took the opposite path, demanded earthly kings, worshipped other idols to bring favorable weather.  We have the benefit of looking through the entire Bible and shaking our head in disbelief.  “Why didn’t they just do what God directed them to do?” one of my Bible study questions asked.  I can only look at my own life and ask myself the same question.

“For everything in the world – the 
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, 
and the pride of life – comes not from 
the Father but from the world.” 
1 John 2:16

When we build up our own mini kingdoms, be it about finances, our care and keeping of our children, our jobs, our social life, our health, and so on we seek to place ourselves higher than God.  Our pride tells us that we know better.

And the Edomites thought they knew best.  They were going to destroy Judah through alliances with her enemies.  Meanwhile the Edomites, who built their city high up in the mountains as sturdy fortresses, were sure that no harm would come to them.

“But how Esau will be ransacked, 
his hidden treasures pillaged!” 
Obadiah 1:6

The thing about God though is that so often instead of an outright destruction of our mini kingdoms we get hit from the flank.  We demand or beg to be in charge and He sits back and says, “Ok, have at it.”  And we think we’ve won the battle.  And then the stress comes, the destroyed relationships, lost sleep, ulcers, and more.  And yet some of us hold on tighter because our pride won’t let us release our drawbridges and welcome God into our kingdom.

When we hold on to the sin of pride it creates ripple effects throughout our entire lives – and maybe even beyond.  We pass down family hatreds and attitudes toward others.  We teach our children to “never give an inch” in situations.   We divorce because we couldn’t see the other side and therefore create broken homes.

My friends, the people of Israel were promised, while still in the desert, a great year of Jubilee.  In that year, all debts would be forgiven, all slaves set free.  It was to be a year-long celebration of God’s love for His people.  And it never happened.  Before they could even get to the promised land, they decided they knew better.  Thousands of young men died because they wouldn’t trust the God who had taken care of them.  The God who created food out of nothing and gave water from a stone.

God wants you to experience His Jubilee – a freedom from the slavery that pride brings.  Jesus paid the price to release us.  It’s already done.  It ourselves that have re-shackled our hearts and minds.  I read this story the other day that I hope will bring you your own epiphany.

“There was a farmer that got word that one of his sheep had been stolen and lie dead in a ditch outside town.  He headed out to retrieve the carcass.  Once he arrived, he realized the sheep wasn’t dead.  It appeared as though its legs were still bound together although no rope remained.  The farmer called to the sheep to get up but the animal laid there as though unable.  He smacked the sheep on the backside to get up and yet it remained.  He realized the sheep still thought he was tied up.  So, the farmer pulled the animal’s legs apart to show him he was no longer bound.  And finally, the sheep hopped up and ran up the hill.”

Are you that sheep?  Jesus has already released you from all bondage.  But are you still acting, out of pride, as though you are still a prisoner inside your own mini kingdom?

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Tiny Message #1

Did you know that Paul was a small, in stature, man?  In fact, some of the Corinthian leaders thought less of him because of this.  

You are judging by appearances.  
If anyone is confident that they 
belong to Christ, they should 
consider again that we belong to 
Christ just as much as they do.
2 Corinthians 10:7

We have the benefit of history and knowing the impact of the apostles, unlike the Corinthian leaders.  But who have you looked at and thought, “She says some good stuff but physically she really puts me off.”  That is exactly what they said to Paul. (2 Cor. 10:10). The name “Paul” even means “little one!”  Yet we can all agree he was certainly mighty among men.  

Is there something about you, physically, that is holding you back from fully doing God’s work? Are you uncomfortable being a greeter at church because of what people might think of you? Do you hide your smile because of your teeth? Do you not volunteer for something because of your weight? Here’s a confession I read that might help you:

“I proclaim that regardless of what I look like in the natural realm, I am a menace to the devil in the spiritual realm.  In that sphere, I am anointed and powerful, with the ability to pull down strongholds from people’s lives and minds.  I am so mighty in the Spirit that the devil and his forces flee when I resist them!  I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!”

Sparkling Gems from the Greek I