Run for You Life

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When God called on Jonah to prophesy to Ninevah (in today’s Iraq), he boarded a ship going to Spain. That is in the opposite direction. Do you wonder why? Well, Jonah knew that the people in Nineveh were very mean. They didn’t need a real reason to behead or impale people. That was part of their wickedness and Jonah was not taking any chances. He ran for his life. Wouldn’t you?

What Jonah didn’t realize is that he couldn’t run away from God. The ship he boarded was caught in a terrible storm. Jonah confessed to the crew that it was his fault, that he was running from God. He told them they should throw him into the sea, which they did. The wind and the waves calmed down. Then a big fish swallowed Jonah and he lived in there for three days. When he cried out to God, the fish spit Jonah out onto the beach.

God commanded Jonah a second time to go to Ninevah and he did. He proclaimed that if they didn’t change their ways in forty days, God would destroy them. That’s what Jonah wanted to happen, but the Ninevites repented. They stopped their cruelty and did what God said. 

THINK ABOUT IT

Mission accomplished, right? Yes, Jonah preached to Ninevah and they repented. But it seemed very wrong to Jonah. It seemed to him like the people got away with murder. He said to God, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). As far as Jonah was concerned, he’d rather be dead. 

There is more to this story, but my point in this part of the story is that if God can show mercy to 120,000 residents of Ninevah, even after all their cruelty, then He can forgive you. You may think that is impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. He loves the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life with Him. New life begins the day you believe.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for sending Jesus to be our Savior and Friend. Help us to accept your love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

The Secret of Blessings

Why are some people blessed and others are not? Is it their beliefs, or achievements or knowledge, wisdom or skill? Is it their ability to love or show compassion?

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46)

Does it make a difference to live a life of love and compassion instead of a self-centered life? I have lived both ways, and I’ll tell you it does make a difference. My self-indulged life was closed to others because I thought mostly about myself and what pleased me. That life led to loneliness and despair. In my depression I cried out to God and He answered me. I could hardly believe He loved me, but I felt His love on me. I knew He cared for me. That’s when things changed. I began to love God in response and love and help others. Little by little I began to feel blessed.

THINK ABOUT IT

Imagine, if you will, a cup right side up and a cup upside down. When blessings are poured over the cups the one right side up will be filled, but the upside down cup will be empty. Now apply this principle to life. The right side up cup can be filled to overflowing. The love and mercy we receive from God spills on to others. But the upside down cup receives nothing. When we think only about ourselves and depend on our own intelligence and strength, we cannot receive God’s blessings of love, peace, mercy, or strength. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Friend, being blessed is in the receiving. Will you receive God’s love and blessings? Say the name of Jesus and confess your need of His amazing love. Be blessed.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord God, for loving us and blessing us beyond anything we could dream about for ourselves. Help us to love as you do and show mercy and compassion as you do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Servant

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James and John asked for places at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), and why not? They were His closest friends, in the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) of the larger group of twelve. He took them (and none of the others) with Him to Jairus’ house to give life back to his daughter. He took them on the mountain where He was transfigured. They, and none of the others, saw Jesus in His glory with Moses and Elijah. Following the Last Supper, Jesus took the twelve to the Garden of Gethsemane, but He asked Peter, James and John to go with Him a little further where He prayed. It seemed natural for them to seek positions of authority in His Kingdom.

Yet, their request came immediately after He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. Why did they skip over the suffering and go to kingdom thinking? Maybe they didn’t understand why Jesus would have to suffer and were afraid to ask. They must have been shocked by Jesus’ response: “To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant,” He said. “These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mark 10:40). Then Jesus told the disciples, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:41-43). Could Jesus have meant that being a servant would be to lead with a servant’s heart. The world needs people who govern with love, humility and compassion, but in this passage Jesus meant servant. He set the example at the Last Supper when He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist to wash the disciple’s feet. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. He cleansed the lepers and delivered people from demons. Even in all this, Jesus was persecuted, rejected and executed–not what we would expect of a king.

THINK ABOUT IT

Everything Jesus did was to show mercy and love to a lost and dying world. His kingdom begins with Him, His ways and His teaching. We, His followers, will do as He did–show love, compassion and mercy, help in times of trouble, forgive. Be His light in this dark world. Share the hope we have in Him. It might seem overwhelming, but He has promised to be with us always. He partners with us to accomplish all He calls us to do.

PRAY ABOUT IT

O Lord, help us to have a heart like yours, filled with love, mercy and compassion. It’s challenging in these days of isolation and distancing, but make us aware of times we can help others. Make us beacons of your light and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Justice and Mercy

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Has anyone ever hurt you or done something wrong to you? Our first reaction might be to get even, but Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39).

This seems upside down to today’s world, doesn’t it? Yet Jesus wants us to respond in love instead of reacting to situations. He does not want us to retaliate to the wrongs done to us. He said, “Pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). Have you tried to stay angry with someone you pray for? It’s nearly impossible.

Jesus goes on to say, “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” This is as hard for me as not retaliating, but Jesus doesn’t want us to be tied to our personal belongings. He is ready and willing to provide for all our needs. So if someone asks us for something, when it is possible, we should be willing to help. And if someone wants us to walk with them a mile, we should be willing to walk even further.

THINK ABOUT IT

God freely gave to us. What does He expect in return? “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Lord Jesus, these are hard lessons. When someone hurts us, we want to strike back. Forgive us and change our hearts that we would have a new attitude toward others. Help us to hold our things lightly so when someone needs what we have, we can offer it to them without reluctance. In your precious name we pray, Amen.