Jonah 4:1-11 – Being Angry at God

Read Jonah 4:1-11

We can shake our head at Jonah’s response, but then we should probably look at the mirror. We, too, have had times in our life when we have been angry at God for one reason or another. Have we, like Jonah, ever been angry at God because of God’s mercy and grace?

Jonah seemed appalled that God changed his mind. Was it because now Jonah looked “bad” for delivering a false message? Nobody wants to look stupid, especially when doing work for God. I suppose that’s why a lot of believers keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to say the wrong thing or look unprepared when spreading the gospel. In reality, I’m sure the people of Nineveh were delighted that God had given them a reprieve. They didn’t give the messenger another thought.

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Jonah 3:1-10 – Are You Ready?

Read Jonah 3:1-10

We don’t see people today wearing burlap as a sign of cleansing and repentance. But in Jonah’s time, it would have been amazing to see, even the king, listening and responding to the warning from God. What Jonah proclaimed was destruction. He didn’t give them an “unless.” That is, Nineveh will be destroyed unless you repent! But the people showed their respect, and their tears of sorrow melted God’s heart.

It was quite unexpected to see the people of Nineveh believing God’s word. I think of the Israelites who went on and on living their idol worshipping lives despite the efforts of Jeremiah, for example. He told them to repent because their worship of other gods angered the one true God.

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Luke 13:18-30 – How Can I See the Kingdom?

Read Luke 13:18-30

The Kingdom of God. Have you ever truly fathomed what this is? Is it heaven? Is it where God reigns? Jesus wants to make it clear to us, but do these parables help? Let’s unpack them a little.

First, we have the mustard seed. If you have never seen a mustard seed, it is tiny. Yet, one seed can produce a tree 30 feet tall. Jesus came quietly into the world, not as people were expecting for their Messiah. His following started small, and according to Pew Research, in 2015, Christians made up 31.2% of the world population or 2.3 billion people. To me, by this example, the Kingdom of God would then be understood as those following Jesus. Continue reading “Luke 13:18-30 – How Can I See the Kingdom?”

Mark 4:21-25 – How Bright Are You?

Read Mark 4:21-25

This is a beautiful parable, so I chose to set it apart from the others. We don’t put a light under a bushel or bed for sure. At least I don’t. Perhaps a lamp shade, but that is only to protect our eyes from the direct light.

In other places in the Bible, this same parable (or one similar) goes on to say that we need to be like the light. We need to shine with the love of God pouring out of us. We are not supposed to hide our faith or who holds our allegiance. We are God’s children, and we need to shine! How bright are you shining?

Here in Mark, however, the parable takes a little different direction. The light reminds us that the truth that will be revealed. Things we try to hide from view, sinful behavior for example, will not be hidden forever. There will be no secrets. God knows our every move, he sees our hearts. There is no hiding from God. We should always keep that in the front of our minds. If we did, it would benefit our actions, our words, and our decision making.

Then Jesus adds here, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given and you will receive even more.”  That is some promise. I don’t know about you, but it really makes me want to be more attentive to the words of Jesus. I want to be listening for the voice of God. Listening is key. We need to be still and be listening.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen, isn’t it? There are so many voices that can clutter our minds. The noises and distractions that surround us are sometimes deafening. Silence is sometimes hard to find.

I feel sorry for those who don’t listen, whether by choice or by circumstance (they don’t know Jesus). Jesus says, “But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” How tragic. We need to stay connected. We need to be listening. Our relationship with God and others depends on this.

I can do better at listening, how about you?

Let’s pray. Father God, forgive me when I forge on ahead of you. Help me to slow down and wait for you. Open my ears that I can hear, and open my heart so I can listen and obey. I thank you for the ability to write and share with others, and I pray that you will use my words to help others draw closer to you. Help us all to listen intently as we grow closer to you. Guide my path today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 4:1-20 – Harvest Time

Read Mark 4:1-20

In light of the time of year I am first writing this, it is very appropriate. My friends in the field are busy with harvesting the crops that they planted earlier in the season. The farmer in our parable today is God, and his seeds are producing another kind of crop.

Each time I hear a parable, even if I’ve heard it many times before, it takes on a new meaning and a new beauty. Teaching in parables is genius, and Jesus knew exactly what he is doing. Do you think all of the people understood? Probably not, but Jesus broke it down for those closest to him, and we have privy to that same revelation.

Jesus also clears up the matter I’ve been struggling with in previous posts about the teachers of the law. He reminds us that their actions fulfill prophecy (Isaiah 6:9-10). While I knew that in my heart, my head is happy to have the actual Bible reference.

So what about you – what type of soil are you? When the seeds are scattered, are you surface level, being choked by circumstances or fertile and open? As followers, I’m sure we all want to enthusiastically claim the latter. If truth be told, can’t we see ourselves in all of the examples? I sure can.

Satan lies in wait to swoop in if there is a chance that a new believer may be born. Satan will also use circumstances to cloud our minds and harden our hearts. Finally, Satan will dangle materialism and evoke worry so that the good things we hear (and try to practice) are crowded out by earthly desires. Good news–Satan’s power is limited by the blood of Jesus. We can stand firm and thwart Satan’s attempts to have us believe in lies.

We need Jesus to help. We are not strong enough on our own. That’s where the problem lies. We can’t combat Satan on our own. We may think we’re tough, but we are not. Satan’s grasp is tight, but Jesus’ loving embrace will loosen that grip. It’s all about Jesus. He will water our soul and nourish us so that we have no more hunger for the prizes Satan offers.

I am reminded of a saying, “you can’t take it with you,” when it comes to what we’ll return to Heaven with. We don’t have to pack, Jesus just wants us. He doesn’t care about our possessions, but he does care about our heart. How did we love, how did we share, how did we give? Those things keep the soil fertile and help produce a much larger crop.

Think about the soil of your heart right now. Are you ready for more Jesus?

Let’s pray. Father, you are so good and so timely with this message today. When the worries of the day crowd in and threatened I need to stand firm and call upon your name. It is your strength that I need to stay strong, to be ready for more of you. Please continue working in me to cultivate me to be able to reach more people in your name. Use our business as a means of touching those who might not otherwise have seen your love in action. May all I say and do this day be a reflection of your goodness and mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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