When It’s Time

Time is in the Lord’s hands. The steps of a believer “Are ordered by the Lord”(Psalms 37:23 NKJV). “The day is at hand” (Romans 13:12).

God’s plan belongs to him, but his plan usually involves an actual person. Sometimes the individual is ready and willing. Then, there are other times when a person is reluctant to obey the Lord. We’ve all been there and experienced those dubious times. It seems like we set our eyes on different priorities. We are in trouble. Situations happen in a way to get our attention. Some may be severe. 

The following adverse events are God’s hints for us to obey his leadings.

God told Jonah to go to a specific location and share the gospel. The Bible uses the word “now” four times in the book of Jonah. Why is it important for the word “now” to appear?

The first “now” (Jonah 1:1) was a directive to go to Nineveh. The city was heavily populated (approximately 120,000, Jonah 4:11) and most did not know the Lord. The Lord wanted them to hear about salvation. 

The bottom line, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. So, he went in the opposite direction. But, on his way, the Lord once again got his attention. Then, God caused a storm to erupt on the sea. So, the sailors threw him overboard. Now, God intervened again; a giant fish swallowed Jonah, and he spent three days surrounded by partially digested food before he decided to pray.

God caused the fish to vomit Jonah on dry ground. Onshore, God now told Jonah to go to Nineveh, again. So, Jonah preceded to the great city. Upon his arrival, this reluctant servant started witnessing. The metropolis believed his message and sought the Lord resulting in a tremendous spiritual harvest.

But there’s still a fourth “now.” Jonah was angry about the results. This blessed servant wanted to die. Our Lord tried to comfort his anger, but to no avail. Jonah didn’t care about God using him or converting the city. 

Sadly, the scriptures are silent about the rest of Jonah’s life.

The point of this blog is simple. Are you ready to let God use you? Are you happy that the Lord is using you? Are you willing to be available for God to use you, again, when it’s time?

Jewels of Humility

Humility is hard to define. Many times, it is impossible to recognize. Those possessing strong personalities consider others as weak individuals. Yet, there is something special about the one who has such a simple trait. Words cannot identify or describe such a person. They can be famous or nobody. Maybe they serve in places of honor or obscurity. Their deeds may be seen or never known. Those honored by others are famous to the crowds, but the platitudes are frivolous words inside their hearts.

Moses was unmatched in spirituality. God describes, “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3 NIV). Likewise, John the Baptist did not toot his kinship to Jesus but said, “I am not worthy to carry his sandals” ( Matthew 3:11). The Messiah later described John as the greatest born of women (Matthew 11:11).

These examples demonstrate humility is lived, not taught. Observed but not bragged about. So many grateful recipients of grace shared what they have, even to their detriment. Lottie Moon, an American missionary to China, was a remarkable example. Reportedly, she starved herself to death by giving her food away during the famine in north China. Humility comes from the heart, not from recognition.

Humility and generosity may come with a price, at least here on earth. Most practitioners are unknown or never recognized by churches, neighbors, or society as someone special. But to the Lord, they are his shining jewels of humility. They serve with a pure heart. They are secure within themselves, totally relying on God, not looking for fame or fortune, but service opportunities. They are quietly praying, doing the Lord’s bidding, desiring to remain unnoticed.

May our churches have more of these humble Saints for heaven’s glory.

How’s Your Heart

The Lord searches every heart and understands the intentions of every thought. I . Chronicles 28:9 HCSB

When you hear the word heart, what do you think about first? The physical one in your chest or the spiritual one that God knows inside and out?

When I go to the doctor, part of his routine is to listen to my heart. It tells him something about my life. If there is a problem with how my heart sounds, he refers me on to another doctor. He, too, listens very carefully. Both doctors are concerned about my physical heart. They know without it beating, there is no life. And no more office visits for me. It also means no more money to them from me. 

However, the Great Physician watches over my spiritual heart. The Lord knows how it’s beating for him. If my spiritual pulse is shallow, that says I’m barely living for God. I’m breathing, but my spiritual output is next to nothing. My mouth and actions reflect minimal effort for him. Usually, the low heart rate says my prayers, if any, are not getting above the ceiling. When my Bible reading is nil, I’m not learning about God and how he wants me to live.

Then, there is my mouth. When we are silent about spiritual things, we are not saying anything about the Lord to anyone. That’s a shame because Christians are to be witnesses for him. We should be sharing what we know about him with others. If we don’t share, the Holy Spirit cannot bless his Word, the Bible, to others. Without Christians sharing God’s Word, others will never understand their spiritual destination. 

Our open mouth or shut mouth is a display of our heart.

What does your heart say about your relationship and dedication to God?

What’s A Breath?

We take for granted the simple things of life because they are so common. We tend to forget everything good is from God.

Every day we wake up is a gift because God allows us to breathe. Each breath is God’s investment in our life. The body cannot live without air. For air to fill our lungs, we must breathe.

Let’s do some math. If you breathe 13 times per minute, your lungs expand 18,720 per day, which equals 6,832,800 in one year.  

Each one of those breaths is a gift from the Almighty. I have experienced over 1/2 billion breaths in my life, which doesn’t include the extra ones from physical exertion. If God charged me one penny for each breath, I would owe him over $5 million now. That’s a debt I cannot pay.

But I don’t owe God one cent because he forgave my sins. However, if I do nothing for Jesus, how will I look when I stand before him? 

Can I say thanks for life, but I wanted to live my way, not yours? Would we have the nerve to say that to our Savior? The question that arises in my mind is, what have I done for Jesus today? What does your mind say to you? Are we happy with our answer? Probably not. What are you and I going to do about it? Will our decision last longer than a week? Usually not. That’s the way we are. Making promises and breaking promises, we’re good at it, but we won’t admit it.

Maybe it’s about time we get serious about doing something for God.

We know man does not purchase salvation. So, we can’t buy our salvation. It was paid for long ago by Jesus. 

Each breath we inhale is a privilege to serve Him out of gratitude. 

I guess the real question is, “Will we?”

He’s My Everything

When do you think about God, what comes to mind? An Almighty judge or him standing at the pearly gate waiting to welcome you? Do you visualize God sitting on his throne looking down on his subjects?

Consider this thought for a moment. Our God is full of compassion. What makes me think like that? 

Jesus said, “I am a Father of one” (John 10:30).

Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

When Jesus saw Lazarus’ burial place, he wept. As Jesus approached Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he cried. Our Lord saw a people without a Savior. He saw a religious generation without faith. Jesus hung on a cross for the sins of the world. His Father couldn’t even look at him with our sins on him.

Only a compassionate Savior would be willing to die for someone with sin all over him. Compassion drove our Lord to Calvary. Compassion brought him to the Upper Room after Golgotha to show his resurrected body. He even offered Thomas to see his scars of compassion. 

His ascension is the certification of his word. Therefore, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:3). 

Compassion is still at work in our Lord’s heart. He sits beside his heavenly Father making intercession for each one of his children. He loves his children–yes, that is what we are–his children. That is how Jesus sees us. Immature in spirituality, needing his divine leadership and his protecting hand.

I’m so glad I belong to him; he’s my everything. He works for my best interest and reassures me of his companionship and love.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving me yesterday, today, and forever.

What You Choose

How long will you waver between two opinions? I Kings 18:21 CSB

Life is all about choices. 

When you get up and when you stay in bed. What to wear versus what not to wear or what to eat or not to eat starts your day. To be on time for your destination or be late. It’s still a choice.

Everything you do or don’t do revolves around a decision. Your decisions reflect your values, what’s important to you, or what you value less. Indecision is even a choice. You may want to delay your decision, but it’s still a choice.

Jesus also gives you a choice. Believe him or refuse to believe, that’s an eternal decision. That has far-reaching consequences both here on earth and where you will spend eternity. If you decide to accept Jesus as your Savior, you have made the most critical decision of your life. Heaven will be your home.

But there is more to decide–will you serve him here or will you serve yourself? It’s another fork in your journey of life. The pleasures of the world are enticing. The satisfaction of asking Jesus for guidance is also satisfying. One decision can give immediate satisfaction and pleasure. The other decision can bring inner joy both now and forever; it’s still your choice. 

Every day you are allowed to breathe one breath after another. That’s a choice by God to let you live. Our Lord gives you opportunities every day to do something for him. It may be small or large in the world’s eyes, but significant however, in the heart of God. Why? Because you chose God, not self. You decided for righteousness, not complacency—obedience —over ignoring the subtle leadership of the Lord.

Life is all about choices. One big choice is deciding to wait for God or hastily charge into the day. Speed is not always best. Moses chose to stand before the Red Sea. He waited for God to say it was ready to walk through. Getting ahead of God can be dangerous. It’s all about what you choose.

Joshua’s words are still valid today. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV).

God Can Forget Your Past

One of God’s great abilities is his forgetfulness. Yes, I did write that. Our Lord has a unique characteristic—he can forgive. When God forgives, he forgets. He does not even remember what he forgives. I wish I had that unique ability. To ignore the hurts I have experienced. Yes, I forgive, but some of them still linger in my memory—much to my sorrow.

When we forgive, we need to move on with life. The apostle Paul put that thought into practice when he wrote, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13 HCSB). 

Hopefully, you believe this scripture. Paul did. This apostle kept on winning people to Christ and continued to plant new churches. He did not let the past hold him back.

Paul lists his mistreatments by government and religious officials in II Corinthians 11:23-31, which is astounding. Would you quit on God if whipped five times? How about beaten with rods three times. If you experienced stoning and shipwreck, what would you do? Somewhere in all that, I would have said, “I was not in God’s will.” Therefore, I must be doing something wrong. But Paul didn’t even blink; he went on encouraging Christians, winning people to Christ, and writing much of the New Testament.

Paul kept pressing on (Philippians 3:14). His determination kept opening doors of opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God. For example, one time, Paul wanted to go east into what is now present-day northern Turkey. Instead, God redirected him west into Macedonia, which is now present-day Greece. By doing so, this apostle ministered in many cities and wrote letters to them. We know them as books of the Bible, including I & II Corinthians, Philippians, and I & II Thessalonians.

Obedience to God has personal benefits, but it can also affect our behavior in shaping and improving future generations (II Timothy 2:2). So, everything we do has far-reaching effects. So, with that in mind, keep on going for God. You will never know this side of heaven what Christ will do through you.

If God can forget Paul’s cruel dealing of Christians and use him mightily, what can the Lord do with you?

Don’t Snuggle Up To People

This title is abrasive to some. Brown nose was another expression used in yesteryear. Maybe not the proper word to use today. Getting on the right side of people is what we want to do. Some even go so far as to be a “yes” man. Anything to get ahead—that’s not me.

The truth is the truth, no matter the outcome. My dad would not bend to any one to get on their good side. For example, he was fired from a job because he told the boss he was wrong. Knowing my dad, I’m sure he was not polite when he expressed his opinion.

What do you think about cozying up to people to get your way? Are you for it or against it? It’s a matter of choice.

If you want immediate positive results, do it. If the long-range picture is your vision, be honest and express your view. It might be accepted, but then it may be rejected. Having what is best for the future in mind will earn you respect. It may take a while for it to develop. But, it will.

Then, there’s another thing to consider–your honesty. It may cost you dearly at this point in your life. But, in time, it will pay dividends. Maybe not monetarily, but in integrity.

The journey can be lonely. But there’s a side benefit. It is a clear conscience and a good night’s sleep that will deepen your trust in God! Knowing one day, you will stand before Jesus and give an account of your life. Hearing complimentary words from the One who knows your true motives—realizing that honesty and integrity matter to God. Joseph, in the Old Testament, is a good example. His brothers intended their actions towards Joseph for harm, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).

The immediate results are not always the best. An oak tree can take years to grow to maturity, and then it can stand against the storms of life. Harvest time for Christians is not during this lifetime, but in the life to come.

Be careful about snuggling for immediate gain. It could result in wood, hay, or stubble in the end (I Corinthians 3:12).

Another Chance

Adversity and discouragement are a way of life for some. Prosperity and happiness come to others. Most of humanity lie somewhere in between. Many of us experience discouragement and happiness at times. The business of life focuses on our daily provisions: food, shelter, and health, so we can enjoy some happiness.

Where does God fit into our formula for contentment? Do we even consider him? Only he can give the real peace that passes understanding.

Elijah, the prophet, experienced many of these characteristics mentioned above. His first appearance recorded in the Bible was to give an announcement to King Ahab. There would be no rain nor dew for three years.

I’m sure Ahab thought Elijah was a nut. But after a while, with no rain, they started to wonder. In the meantime, Elijah went to pray. Not a random prayer, but an earnest one. It didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years until the prophet prayed for rain (James 5:17, 18).

Later, after many other mountaintop experiences, the prophet became discouraged. Finally, he decided to withdraw from society because an ungodly woman threatened him, so he ran. 

Elijah asked God to take his life ( I Kings 19:4). God didn’t! Instead, God gave him food. Then Elijah replenished with strength, traveled 40 days to Horeb. The distance was some 250 miles over rugged terrain. Horeb is also known as Mount Sinai, the same mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It is here, the Lord spoke once again. This time, he asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah” (I Kings 19:9)?

Imagine the God of gods is now talking to you. How would you respond?

Elijah rehearsed his past deeds for God. So now God gives him a simple instruction. “Go stand on the mountain before you” (I Kings 19:11). Then God shows the discouraged prophet a fierce wind, strong enough to break rocks. Then, there was an earthquake. And, it was followed by a fire. But, the Lord wasn’t in them.

Now, God spoke to his heart, and Elijah heard the Lord speak. The man of God stood determined not to change. Again, God asked, “What are you doing here ” (I Kings 19:13)? Once again, Elijah rehearsed the past. Finally, God seemed to say, OK, your powerful ministry is complete. I want you to go and do three things; anoint Hazel, King of Syria, Jehu, King of Israel, and Elisha to take your place.

What is the Lord saying to you? Is he giving you another chance to serve him? Have you decided to quit? The choice is always yours.

The Past Is Forgivable

“Come unto me” were Jesus’ words (Matthew 11:28). He said those words to the multitudes. It was an open invitation; those words crossed nationalities, time zones, and millenniums.

How does that make you feel? Can you accept his invitation? Do not make excuses about your past, about your birthplace, your parents, or even your actions.

God did not give up on Moses when he killed an Egyptian. Nor did he give up when Moses said get Aaron to do it. God did not abandon the widow at Zarephath when she was down to her last meal. The Lord saved a harlot and her family because she hid two spies. Her kindness placed her in the genealogy of our Lord.

Our Lord still used Peter after he denied knowing Jesus and cursing. John Mark deserted the mission field, yet he was essential for the ministry later. Then there was the woman at the well. She failed in marriage five times, but God still reached out to her.

Sin is forgivable, but forgiveness requires a step of faith. Simply ask God to forgive whatever sin you have committed. This is your opportunity to have the guilt removed from God’s memory.

Have you ever known Jesus to turn away a sincere seeker? There are no “turn aways” recorded in the Bible. Nicodemus came to the Lord by night so no one would know. He later joined Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the crucified Lord for burial.

The past is forgivable for God. All it takes is a big swallow of pride and an outstretched arm for help. Peter reached out to Jesus when he was sinking, and Jesus extended his hand to help. That is what Jesus does—help. Help is always available to a trusting heart.

The Lord knows and watches all his children all the time.