God Is Always Prepared.

Ever since my Pastor started the series on Jonah, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. There are so many important things to learn from in the small book, and it has quickly become a favorite of mine. I’ve been convicted over my prayer life, my submission (or lack thereof) and my life in general. What am I doing-or not doing-for God? But something from one particular sermon has stuck out to me all week as I’ve been thinking and praying on the election. Something that my Bible says in Jonah chapter 1, verse 1. I’ve mentioned this verse in a few posts lately, I believe, but I’d like to put a different spin on it than I have before. This verse and this story makes me think of my country and the upcoming election. History will be made today, it is inevitable; it is very easy to get discouraged and think that all hope is gone no matter who becomes our next President, but I want us to remember these words in the book of Jonah…

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.

Image result for jonah and the whale art

I can only imagine the terror that was felt on the boat from all of the men. A great storm was raging, and they felt as if all hope was lost. Their lives were in great danger, and perhaps this situation is not comparable to the situation that we are in now, but a lot of Christians seem to think that this election is a matter of life or death. We’ve spent a lot of sleepless nights in prayer, or just worrying about the things that will change. We worry about Donald Trump and if he will be a good President, or just be a total foolish loudmouth. We worry about Hillary Clinton and wonder if we will have any sort of religious freedom after her years as the leader of this country. We worry about America and our freedom, our safety, and wonder how long we will be able to live freely as Christian people.

We really do have a lot to worry about. A lot is at stake here.

When Jonah was being cast out of the boat, he didn’t know that just weeks later, he would be safe and right where God had wanted him to be in the first place. He didn’t know that God had prepared a large fish to swallow him up and keep him safe. Jonah says in chapter 2 that he was trapped by the strong waters and tangled in the middle of weeds in the sea. He must have been terrified. He was in the water, drowning, cast out of the sight of God, and the next thing he knows, there is a great fish coming at him to eat him. We tend to make this into a kid-friendly story and think of the big fish as a nice whale, but regardless of what kind of fish this was, this wasn’t a happy sight for him. He was doomed unless God intervened, and he knew it. We as Christians probably feel like we can echo his thoughts. We look around at America and wonder if we are also cast out of His sight. Does God even dare look at us now? With all of the corruption and sin? We panic and worry about things that happen. We can look at this story and completely forget about the state of our country and put a personal spin on this. Perhaps, you’re going through a storm and you feel like all hope is lost…but all hope is not lost. God is preparing, He is always preparing. God has prepared a great fish for us, for America, and no matter what happens, whether it is rapture or revival, we are still on the winning side. God never leaves His people to die alone without helping them. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Later on in the fourth chapter of Jonah, we read that God prepared three more things. A gourd in verse 6, a worm in verse 7, and a wind in verse 8. God prepared all of these things-the fish, the gourd, the worm, the wind, in order to save a country that was lost in sin and desperately needed a revival. He prepared those things to lead Jonah to the right place both physically and spiritually. If God can use something as small as a worm for Ninevah, why do we doubt that He can use His people in America? We are doubting God, but He still works in mighty ways. Perhaps the reason that we don’t see great revivals anymore is because we are doubting God too much. We aren’t even giving Him a moment to work. We have no faith.

Ninevah was saved. It is not too late for America.

So, who is going to rise up and stir up a revival? Who is going to learn from their mistakes like Jonah and rise up to preach the Gospel? Who is going to sit in the belly of the fish and pray earnestly? Remember what the story of Jonah is about. It is a book all about mission work. A book about a great revival in a man’s heart, and in Ninevah. The book of Jonah is proof that God is ready to forgive and save. Jonah said this in chapter 2,

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

He vowed to never be a part of they that sin and focus on their own vanities. He vowed to preach the Gospel in Ninevah and be a part of something great there. If Christians would get on their knees and promise this same thing to God, to be different and set apart, we could see a revival just like the one in Ninevah.

We have to remember that God has prepared a great fish. In other words, God has prepared a way out of the sin that we are in. The question is, are we ready to leave the boat headed to Tarshish and get on board with God?

Our Task Is Still The Same.

The judgment of God against this nation will not be turned by a more conservative President, but by the repentance of its people. The church’s task for the next 4 yrs is the same as the last 2000 yrs – Preach the Gospel to every creature and live it out before them. – Paul Washer

History is will be made this week. Whether you are an American or not, this decision, deciding who will be the next president of the United States, will probably effect you in some way. Most Americans have been panicking over this for the last year or so, and the stress seems to be getting worse and worse as the days go by. Most of us will admit that we are not entirely fond of our two choices and would much rather start all over with new candidates to choose from. While I support the Republican nominee, he was not my pick or my favorite candidate, and I have often found myself wishing that we could have a better, more experienced Christian man running for office. But alas, Donald Trump was the nominee. On the other side, we have Hillary Clinton, a woman that I can not, and will not, ever endorse. I could turn this into a completely political post, but I won’t. Because this world has focused far too much on politics in the last few months, and I think it would do us Christians good to remember something very important.

No matter who becomes the next President, we are still serving the same God, and our task has not changed.

God is not going to send an incredible revival simply because Donald Trump wins the election. I see a lot of Christians putting all of their hope in Donald Trump, and I want to remind us all that Donald Trump is not our Savior. Now, let me be clear; I think that whoever chooses not to vote in this election is making a very irresponsible decision. If Hillary Clinton does get into office, she will change everything, and not for the better. She stands for everything that the Bible is against. Her stance on abortion alone should be enough for us to stand up and vote against her. It should be enough to make us want to fight. We have the opportunity to fight against a woman who has no respect for God at all whatsoever, and although I do not put my hope in Donald Trump, I do believe that he is a far better choice than Hillary Clinton. If you want to take that as an endorsement, that is fine. Regardless of what you think about things he has said-and yes, he has done wrong-I want to remind you of the danger that Hillary Clinton could create. She will make abortion nothing more than a casual thing that requires no thought. She will change the Supreme Court and she will put our religious freedom in serious jeopardy. Ask yourself now, do you want Hillary Clinton to run this country? Your answer should be no. Now, go do your job and vote against her. Christians have been silent for far too long, and it is time to say that enough is enough. It is time to for us to see what the liberal influence has done to our country and stand strong against it.

So, God is not going to send a revival because of the Republican nominee. The President has never been responsible for a worldwide revival. Donald Trump claims to be a Christian, and while I do doubt his salvation for various reasons, I pray that he is truly born again. That is all we can do-pray over it. But I want to remind you all that creating a revival is not Donald Trump’s job. His job is to make America a better and safer place. Creating revival is our job. That job belongs to the church of Christ. If Trump is saved, he is a part of that, and he has a part in that job. I only hope that he does his part.

If we want to see this country go back to God, we have to stand up as Christians and fulfill the task that God has given us. We have to be bold and strong and fight against the ungodly attacks that America has been under for years. We have to stand up and cry against abortion, sexual immorality, and so on. We have to fight for our Supreme Court so it does not turn into a horrible liberal creation. We have to fight for the White House.

If you have not voted, I want to beg you; go vote. We are up against two candidates, and neither of them are perfect. But one of them believes in partial birth abortion. The murder of babies in the womb. One of them is going to send this country to a place not unlike Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a definite thing. Not an if, not a maybe.

So vote. I’m going to be blunt and say this. Vote against Hillary Clinton.

But remember, no matter who wins, we still have a task. It is our job to create a revival. It is our job to stand up for God and share the Gospel. It is our job to be set apart, to be salt and light. This country is not going to experience a sudden revival if Donald Trump takes the White House. The only way we are going to see a God-sent revival is if His people-all of us-get serious about where this world is heading. If we get on our knees and pray, and beg of Him to turn things around. If we open our eyes and see how terrible things are now. We are not going in the right direction, and before long, it will be too late for us to turn around. Let God use you. Do not be like this world. Go do something to change it.

What if God created another 7,000 in America? Would you be a part of the 7,000 like in Israel? God always leaves a remnant, and it is time that we determine to be in it. It is not too late for America, and no matter who wins the election, our task is the same. Be a part of the holy remnant of God and seek after a revival that will turn this country around.

1 Kings 19:18

“Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

 

What Does It Take?

I have a question for you all…and I want you to think on this. Don’t just read it and move on, don’t answer it quickly in your head because you think that your faith is strong enough that it will never waver. Remember when Peter denied Jesus, remember when King David turned from God, remember when so many followers of Christ lost their faith, even for a time. So, remember this as you ponder my question; we are all capable of losing our faith just like Peter did. We are all capable of denying our Savior in tough times. We are all capable of backsliding. In the deepest parts of our heart, we are still sinners. We are still fighting a battle with Satan, and he will take any chance he gets to win our hearts over, even if it is for five minutes, five days, five years, or a lifetime. Peter denied Him three times. If Peter could deny Him after he traveled with Him for so long, so can we.

What Does It Take For Us To Lose Faith?

Who has the power to take away our faith, even if it is for a moment? Who has the power to make us lose that faith and guide us into a sinful situation of backsliding? Who-or what- has enough power to take a hold of us and make us deny Him? Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton? The constant backsliding of America? Could it be one of your children who have started to live a sinful lifestyle? Could it be a spouse who is mean, or perhaps cheats on you? Could it be a parent who degrades you? What has the power to make us lose faith? An illness? The death of a family member? Losing a close friend? Being betrayed by someone? For a very long time, I allowed my situations to control my faith and I let my situations steer me as I made a very feeble attempt to walk with God. But the wheel of my heart would get turned, and I’d go the wrong way. I’d take the wrong turn. I hit a lot of dead ends in my faith. I felt like I was getting nowhere. My prayer life was horrible, I never studied the Bible, I stopped witnessing so boldly, I didn’t want to go to church or listen to sermons. Suddenly, the world began to look very appealing. I thought, wow, how nice would it be…to be a part of the world, and not have to worry about the things of God? How easy would my life be if I wasn’t worried about going to this church service, or reading my Bible each day? What caused my backsliding? What made me get so lukewarm? I lost my faith because I let my hard situations get to me. Somewhere along the line, I forgot how powerful God is. I let myself get disheartened. God wasn’t fixing anything in my life, so my attempts to follow Him seemed to be pointless. And then I realized this; God is not a genie in the bottle, and He owes me nothing. He could have fixed every problem I had ever faced in a blink of an eye, but He didn’t. He didn’t fix those things for a reason. They made me into a stronger Christian. When I stopped being so focused on myself and how I wanted my life to go, I was able to see His plan clearly. All I needed was to get to the end of myself, as my Pastor would say, and get to Him. He has no end. He never loses strength. I do, but He sure doesn’t.

Peter lost faith after he watched Jesus die on the cross. He was afraid for his own life, and I’m sure that he was doubting Jesus at that point. After all…He died. The Savior, the Son of God, dead. That would be a good reason to doubt things. So, he denied Him. We read on and see that he got his faith back. 1st Peter 1:3 says this, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He found his faith through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can find our faith in the same thing. We may look at America today and think to ourselves, this will never get better. We may think that revival will never happen, but Christian, let me remind you of Ninevah. Let’s read Jonah chapter 3.

1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

A revival in a sinful place, not unlike America. God used Jonah to stir up a great revival. One of the greatest revivals that this world has ever seen. Do we not serve the same God who created this revival? Do we not serve the same Jesus who rose again on the third day? I think of the martyr Polycarp, and what we read about him in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. As he was being killed brutally for his faith, these were his words when he was told to deny Him:

We serve the same God that Polycarp served. We may not have been serving him for 86 years, but we are still serving Him day by day. Years do not matter. We still have a personal relationship with Christ. These people urged Polycarp-deny Him! We will release you! But still, he did not waver in his faith. He looked death in the eye, and he proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ with boldness and pride for His Savior.

I ask again…what does it take for us to lose faith?

This country is in a very dangerous place, I will not deny it. But God is still capable of sending revival. Your life may be hard right now, but God is still capable of using it to His glory. He does not change, and He created you for a purpose. He created this country for a purpose, and I know that if His people humble themselves and pray, if His people rise up as a remnant of God and begin serving Him wholeheartedly, this nation will be healed. There is no if, and there is no but. He says I will. He is ready to fulfill His end of the bargain, are we? Are we willing to take things seriously? The biggest problem in America today, the biggest problem in our personal lives today, is that we have stopped taking God seriously. We are doubting Him far too much, and we are trusting in politicians far too much. Where do we put our faith? We’ve jumped on the boat with Jonah, ready to flee from Ninevah and get somewhere easy. We’ve jumped on the boat with Jonah, ready to get away from what He is calling us to do because we know it’s gonna be difficult. But all it took for Ninevah was one man dedicated to serving God…one man who realized that the boat to Tarshish wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. One man. God’s greatest revivals have come from a small remnant of believers. Can we not rise up and be a remnant?

Psalms 9:10 – And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

 Zechariah 8:6-12 – Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.

What God Gives Us.

There is a saying out there that I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say to us during tough times and hard situations. God never gives us more than we can handle. I’ve heard it. I was told that when I was dealing with constant sickness years ago, I was told that when I began voicing my struggle over my father and brothers drug addiction, I was told that when my father died. I’ve been told that all throughout my life. When a girl struggles with anxiety and tends to worry about more than is normal, she gets told that a lot. Most people would say that saying helps calm their nerves, but for me…it just made things worse. Before I rededicated my life to Him and began to lay my heavy baggage at the alter, I was very aware that the popular saying was a lie. God had given me way more than I could handle on my own. My family couldn’t help. My friends couldn’t help. No one could get rid of those problems, even with hours spent praying for me, even with all of the sweet advice, until I was willing to open my eyes and realize that God was ready to bare my burdens if only I’d hand them to Him. But you see, I couldn’t deal with those problems. A dying, drug addicted father is way more than a young teenage girl can handle on her own. The stress that this life had put on me was way more than I could handle on my own. Most people would say that I was coping, and I guess that just says that I’m a good actor, because I wasn’t. I wasn’t sleeping at night. I had no peace in my life.

And then, I turned it over to God.

I’ve always thought that I’d be one to fall into some sort of addiction very easily because of how I am. How I think. How I feel. I’m highly sensitive, I have an anxiety disorder of some sort, I get depressed very easily. A few more years of this kind of stress and I think anyone without God would be a drug addict or an alcoholic or something. I don’t know what I’d turn to, but without God, there would have to be something. Some sort of horrible replacement. I come from a long line of addicts, it’s true. A long line of people who have mental issues. Lots of anxiety. Lots of depression. Lots of problems. We’re a happy, solid bunch. (I say this with sarcasm.) But then…I turned it over to God. Just like a lot of folks in my family did. And that made all the difference in my life.

Look at some heroes of the faith. Do you think they could handle life without God? Do you think that King David could’ve handled losing so much of his family without God? Do you think that Daniel could’ve handled being thrown into the lion’s den without God? Just like Daniel would have been devoured by lions if he did not have God there to intercede, we would be devoured by sin. Maybe your problem wouldn’t be addiction. Maybe it would be stress. Sinful relationships. Failure. Who knows, there are a lot of places that we could all end up. Maybe you’ll have a prosperous life like the Bible says happens to unbelievers, but in the end, you lose it all. You lay on your death bed somewhere and realize that you need God now more than ever. You needed Him through your entire life…and now that you have Him, it’s too late to serve Him. Either way…we need God. We can’t handle this life without Him, or anything that it throws at us. Sometimes, God Himself gives us more than we can handle on purpose. Look at Jonah- my Pastor asked this question a few weeks ago. “Who tossed Jonah into the sea?” Who created that storm that made the boat toss and turn? That made even the seasoned sailors fear for their lives? In Jonah chapter 1, we read that the men tossed Jonah into the sea, but then later on, we read that God did. God worked through that storm that He created and He tossed Jonah into the sea in order to bring Jonah back to Him, and get him to where he needed to be. This wasn’t just about getting Jonah somewhere physical like Jonah, he needed to be in a better place spiritually, too. Sometimes, God gives us more than we can handle so we turn to Him.

"With renewed faith Gideon and Purah roused their mini army and launched a night attack. This threw the Midians into a panic and they slaughtered each other in confusion. It was a rout. Not one of Gideons three hundred perished in the battle. God gave them more than they could handle to force them to rely wholly on him.  When were confronted with an impossible situation or trial Gideons three hundred preach to us that 'salvation is from the Lᴏʀᴅ' (Psalm 37:39) and 'if God is for us who can b...:

Lazarus couldn’t have raised himself from the dead. Jonah couldn’t have survived that storm. Then, we can think about heroes that we grew up learning about. Could the man who wrote the hymn It Is Well survive all that he went through and still be able to say it is well with my soul? He lost his entire family. Everything. But still, it was well. He had a peace that no one could give him but Jesus Christ. Could Dietrich Bonhoeffer go to the place where he would be killed with peace in his heart without Jesus Christ interceded? Could Polycarp stand at the feet of his killers still proclaiming God’s name without God Himself interceded for him? Those men stood up for God even when it meant dying for Him. That is…a lot of stress. How could they handle that with peace when we can barely handle the stress of waiting in a long line at a store without having a panic attack?

This life. Man, is it terrifying. We’ve got that scary election coming up and we’re stuck between two candidates, both of which I’m not entirely fond of, but we’re stuck. We’ve got hurricanes, crazy storms hitting us every time we look up. We’ve got riots and angry people killing others based on what kind of uniform they wear or what color their skin is. Hate is everywhere. How do we handle this? Maybe I’m weak, but I can’t handle my life without God. I can’t handle everything that gets thrown at me without Him. But that’s the point. The point of this life was never to see who is the strongest and who can survive the longest without Him. He is the entire point. Getting close to Him, doing what He calls us to do, finding a peace that only He can offer and then going out and sharing that peace with others. That is our calling. That is our purpose. He is our purpose. It’s not survival of the fittest, and that is a good, good thing, because none of us would win in the end. Eventually, even if our life was all sunshine and rainbows here on earth, we wouldn’t be able to handle going to the judgement seat and getting into Heaven without God.

Isaiah 43:2 says this, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” God gives us this kind of promise time and time again for a reason. He is fully aware that without Him, those rivers would drown us. That fire would burn us. Why else would He offer to protect us from them? And He is always willing to be with us as we go through the fire and the water and the dark valleys, we just have to be willing to give our lives to Him. God sends us storms to remind us that we still need a Savior. We still need to repent and turn our lives over to Him. What would the point of them be if we could handle them all by ourselves? Then, there would be no need for God.

And then, even after we come to Him, He’ll still use storms. There’s this saying…

Life changes happen daily. Some changes cause pain while others bring happiness in our lives. When you feel weak and like you're breaking we must remember our soul is always rooting for us! See the positivity in your adversity. "God will never give you more than you can handle." #life #growth #Godfirst #thenyou by natdam78:

Why do Christians still suffer? Why am I still dealing with my problems? Why doesn’t God remove them the moment we’re saved? Because we are always, always growing. We always have to be growing spiritually. There will never be a point in this life that God will look down on us and say, “That Christian is perfect. They’re done! They don’t need to grow anymore.”David Ring is a preacher who has cerebral palsy, and he once hinted on this topic at a Gaither concert. He said that he is still in the oven and God is still cooking, and he’s only going to be ready and perfect when he gets to Heaven. Our journey is over the day we get to Heaven, not a day before. That is when we will be made perfect, but now is not that time. We still have to grow. I have to swallow my pride and thank God for the storms that He has sent me because those storms have molded me into who I am today. Those storms are my biggest inspirations, the best reminders to keep going and to stay close with God so I don’t lose everything based on my weaknesses, and boy, am I weak. The moment I turn away from God is the moment that I stop growing as a Christian, and the moment that I lose everything I had with Him. And I have a lot with Him. He uses these storms to remind us of all that we do have, so that we can have a thankful heart. He uses these storms to remind us that with God on our side, we can get through anything. These storms give us a testimony, a way to reach others, and a great reason to reach others. Don’t we want others to have that peace from God?

What does God give us? He gives us a lot. He gives us storms, hard times. He tosses us up but He is capable of picking us back up. He gives us peace, and grace, and the strength to get through. God gives us a lot.

 

Having A Heart That Is Fixed.

A few weeks ago, I was studying in Psalm 57 and verse 7 seemed to leap out at me. Verse 7 says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” A very simple verse, but an inspiring one for me nonetheless. I thought about those words…my heart is fixed. On what is my heart fixed? What is my ultimate focus in life? What is my purpose? My priority? These verses stuck into my heart and mind throughout the next few weeks. I would be studying other books in the Bible, praying, or simply going along with life and partaking in the usual run of the mill things, and there would that phrase be, leaping out of my heart. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I’ve talked a bit about storms lately, and how we can overcome the spiritual storms with faith, through His Word and Prayer, especially. This phrase has been a great reminder for me as I’ve gone through yet another spiritual storm. Whenever I felt like giving up, like I was far too weak, I’d remember those words in Psalm 57. And then, tonight during Bible study, we read in Psalm 108. The first verse in Psalm 108 says this,O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.” How odd…another verse that says the same thing, another verse about singing and giving praise to God. Another challenge for me, another question; what is my heart fixed on? You see, if our hearts are not fixed on Jesus alone, we will struggle with various things.


1.) We Can’t Praise When Our Heart Isn’t Fixed on Him.

God has to be our priority, and we have to acknowledge that following Him is our ultimate purpose in life. We can’t praise God while half of our heart is fixed on something else. We have to devote 100% of ourselves to Him in order to worship Him. The Bible says that we can not serve Baal and serve God, we can not straddle the fence and have one side in the world and one side in the church. No matter what the other half of our heart is fixed on, whether it is a sinful idol or even something that is not exactly sinful on its own, we have to rip it away and give every ounce of our beings to God and God alone. Charles Spurgeon said this on what God should be to us.

“If Christ is not all to you He is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as a part Saviour of men. If He be something He must be everything, and if He be not everything He is nothing to you.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

God will not accept praise unless He is absolutely everything to us. The most important things in our lives. What good is our praise if we are glancing away from Him during our praying and singing, wishing to be away from Him and with the other thing that our heart is fixed on? This convicted me greatly because I have made so many things into false idols. I have had to learn that I can not truly praise and worship God if He is not everything to me. I can not serve two God’s, He is the only one for us. And where would we be without true worship?

2.) We Can’t Be Strong If Our Heart Isn’t Fixed On Him.

If God is not our everything, we will backslide. We will never stay where He wants us to be simply because we have other priorities, and eventually, we’re going to have to choose. God is going to demand your time-every bit of it-and He is going to demand your devotion and dedication to Him and His Will. He can not use anyone who is constantly looking back into the world. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. Why did she look back into the world? Her heart wasn’t fixed on God. She was going the right way, Christian! She was so close to safety! But she just couldn’t stay strong…she left part of her heart there in that sinful city and had to turn around to watch it burn and face God’s judgement. Her heart wasn’t on God, it was in the city and in the sins.

Luke 9:62 – And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Staying strong in this day and age is hard. It seems like there is a new shooting every day. A new riot. We look at the presidential candidates and we are so saddened for America and how she has fallen. Sin has taken over. Thousands of people are without Christ, and thousands upon thousands are victims of false conversion. They claim to know God, but they do not know His Word, and therefore, do not know the one true God. It’s easy to get upset, it’s easy to get disheartened. If we are not fixed on God, we’re going to be miserable. We are going to be without hope. But when our heart is fixed, we remember that we are on the winning side. No matter what is happening in this world, our enemies are not going to prosper for long. We know that no matter what, God is on the throne! And so, we can continue praising! We can walk without backsliding! Oh, the things we can do when our heart is fixed on Jesus alone!

3.) We Can’t Have Peace If Our Heart Isn’t Fixed On Him.

We read this in Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” When our hearts are fixed on God, we are able to trust in Him through anything. Not only do we have the strength to persevere, but we are able to fight with peace in our hearts. We don’t have to fear the enemy or what they can do, we don’t have to fear the storms because we know that He has a plan for us, no matter what is going on in the world or in our personal lives. He is able to bring us through storms and even use those storms to strengthen us like He used the storm to strengthen Jonah, and we are able to have a peace and know that God will bring us through everything and He will use everything to His glory, and to bring us closer to Him.

Those storms I went through…I had to learn major lessons through them all, the biggest of which was on fixing my heart. I got tired of going through those storms and feeling so drained, and so anxious. After time, after I rededicated myself to Him and earnestly started getting to know Him, I was amazed at how I could finally live in peace, no matter what kind of storm I was going through.I had this peace because I was no longer looking around at all of the terrible things happening and going to the worst case scenario…I had my eyes firmly planted on Jesus’ face and His word, and He reminded me time and time again that He was holding me through it all.

4.) We Can’t Find Our God Given Calling If Our Heart Isn’t Fixed On Him.

And finally…although I could write about this topic forever, my last point. If our hearts aren’t fixed on God, we aren’t going to be able to do all that He has in store for us. Our mind is going to be too busy focusing on us; what do we want to do? Where do we want to go? What do we want to study? Where do we want to live? When our heart is fixed on Christ, it is less about us and all about Him. It becomes…where does He want me to go? What does He want us to study? Where does He want us to live? He is able to show us His amazing plan for our lives when we are fixed on Him and waiting for Him to make our path clear. How can He lead and direct us if we are too busy chasing something else? As I mentioned before…we can’t serve Baal and serve God, and we can’t serve flesh and serve God. We have to make the choice. What are we fixed on? Do we want to be fixed on God so that we can have His promises? So He can fulfill them for us? He wants to!

Let’s read the rest of Psalm 108 before I end this post…

Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;

That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.

God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.

Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;

Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.

10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?

11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?

12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.

13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

All of these things are ours if our heart remains fixed. We can praise Him. We can rejoice. We can be on the winning side. The Psalmist says that Gilead is ours, Mannaseh is ours. Through God we shall do valiantly, He will tread down our enemies all because of what verse 1 says…my heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. The question is, can we relate to the Psalmist? What is our heart fixed on right now? What is our number one priority?

“And immediately, he arose.”

According to this website, the word immediately appears 55 times in scripture. This word always strikes me during Bible studies because nearly every time Jesus heals someone, it says that after they were healed, they immediately got up and did something about it. Whether Jesus commanded them to go and do something in particular like in Mark 2:11, where Jesus said to the palsied man, “I say unto thee, arise and take up thy bed and go thy way into thine house.” or even when He did not tell them to do anything at all, scripture says that most of these people went out as soon as they were healed and shared the good news with other people. They were healed by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and they wanted everyone to know about it, and they were not willing to delay. Just like the man in Mark 2, we are told to do something by God after we are healed by His blood. We are told to go out and be fishers of men. We are told to share the Gospel, we are told to pass the good news along. And just like these men, we are commanded to do so immediately. God does not tell us to wait until we have gone to Bible college, until we have a certain amount of scripture memorized, or until we have a certain about of knowledge of theology. We put those restrictions on ourselves, God does not. The only thing that needs to be preached is Christ Crucified. If we are saved, we know how to get others saved. We know what saved us, and we know how to tell others about it. We know what we are saved from, and we should want others to be saved from the same terrible fate that awaits us all that are apart from God. This word should inspire us when we read it in scripture, and it should convict us to do better. Because this man was willing to arise out of bed like Jesus told him to, the other people in his house saw what Jesus had done for him and were all amazed.

Mark 2:9-12

Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

You see, Jesus had a plan from the very beginning. When He heard about this man, He began planning a way to not only heal this one man and show him the truth, but to use this man as a tool to get others to know the greatness of God as well. As He said in verse 9, He could have just forgiven the man and continued His journey, but He chose a different route so that the others would know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins. But Jesus had to get this man to go along with His plan in order to glorify God through him. What if the man refused to leave his bed? What if he sat there and said, “Jesus, forgiveness is enough. Let me just lay here. Why do I have to get up?” Would Jesus accept that behavior? So often, we behave that way. We tell God that we are happy to accept His forgiveness and grace, but when the time comes for us to arise, we want to sit around just a bit longer. The Bible says that this man went forth before them; it doesn’t say that he went up to a pulpit and preached a heartfelt sermon and then they all believed. All it took was for him to walk in and these people saw the difference. Of course they did! The man was paralyzed, now he is walking. But Christians, the change in us should be just as obvious after we are saved. In other words, God is not telling us all to go out and be Pastor’s of a church and preach every Sunday. God is not telling us all to sell everything we have and go to Africa to be a missionary. Yes, He has a plan for all of us, a marvelous plan, but He uses us in different ways. Sometimes, He uses us in ways that we think are small. All this man had to do was walk in a room and stand in front of these people. This makes me wonder two things…

Have We Really Changed That Much?

Even if you were born and raised in a conservative home, never partied, never did drugs, never drank, never had sex before marriage, and lived a decent, wholesome life before salvation, there should still be a very obvious change in you. You will have a hunger for scripture that was not there before. You will have the desire to be in a God fearing church. You will want to listen to different music, perhaps. You will want to be around other Bible Believing Christians. The time that you spent doing things that aren’t necessarily sinful, you will now want to spend getting closer to God. I wonder, have we really changed that much? When we are around our old friends, do they see a difference, or do we still blend in? The Bible says that before Christ, we were blind. Because of Him, we are given sight. That’s a pretty big difference. Are we any different at all?

I’ve met a few Christians that are so sold out for Christ that you can literally feel it the moment that you get around them. I remember meeting a Pastor for the first time, one that I had listened to for years online, and when I talked to him for the first time, I was in awe. There was something very Godly in this man and you could feel it from a mile away. I think of the paralyzed man, his presence alone stirring up a revival in his home, and I think to myself…what does our presence feel like? Coincidentally, the first conversation that I had with this Pastor drifted towards how Christians should act and carry themselves. He made a comment that I’ll never forget, and said something along the lines of, “A non-believer should always sense something in us that is very different, and very odd. Later on, they will recognize that they were feeling the presence of the Spirit in us.”

When we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes residence in all of us. We should be different. So very different that the world can sense that there is something unique in us. That there is a light, there is a form of something that can only be chalked down to God. Are we representing the Holy Spirit properly?

 

Are We Willing To Arise?

Often times, the simplest things that He asked us to do seem to be the hardest. You see, when we feel a calling to do something great for Him, like when He calls you men to preach in a church, or when He calls us to lead a small group, or go on a mission trip, we aren’t worrying over if we seem silly. We aren’t worrying over if this calling is just too…mundane. But then, He calls us to go tell that salesman in the mall about Jesus and we’re suddenly too embarrassed and shy. He calls us to go and stand in the room full of our old friends, or perhaps our unsaved family, and show how different we are, and we feel silly. We get stage fright. But this man…he didn’t care. As a matter of fact, no one that Jesus healed seemed to care about how they’d look when they went out to tell everyone about what He had done for them. They just went out and told people. You may be thinking, “Of course they told everyone! These people were suffering, some were even dying! He performed miracles on them! What He has done for us isn’t that big of a deal!” I mean, I’ve never had leprosy and been healed by Jesus’ touch. I’ve never been blind, only to receive sight from Jesus. He has never called out to me like He called out to Lazarus and pulled me from death. But what has He done? My name may as well be changed to Lazarus. I may have not been dead physically, but I was dead spiritually.

 Mark 16:16 – He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

 

We were once damned to an eternity in Hell but Christ saved us and has mansions prepared for us in Heaven. Even better than that, we will be with Him. We will have the freedom to walk with Him, talk with Him. To see His face. We will have no more sadness, no more death. Everything will be perfect. So really, Christ did more for us than just heal us from leprosy or give us eyes that see. He gave us everything. He saved us.

So why is it that we are willing to sit by and be idle while there are lost souls everywhere? We have all of the knowledge needed. We have our Bible’s. We have freedom. What is stopping us from rising like that man and going out immediately? Is it fear? Is it embarrassment? Is it laziness? We have no excuses, no matter how we feel. No job is too small to be carried out for God. And when He calls us and we are certain that it is indeed Him calling, we should carry out His instructions immediately.

Charles Haddon (CH) Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the "Prince of Preachers". He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition. Spurgeon produced powerful sermons of penetrating thought and precise exposition. Many Christians have discovered Spurgeon's messages to be among the best in Christian literature.:

As Leonard Ravenhill asked many times, “Where is our unction? Where is our zeal?” We are all well aware of how bad this world is getting, and it will only get worse from here. We whine about politics on Facebook, we complain about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We ask for prayers during shootings and riots…we acknowledge that bad things are happening, but we still have no zeal. No unction. No fire. I keep waiting for something to happen that finally wakes us up. I keep waiting to see something happen that will get us off off of our couches and into the world to evangelize. Something that will get us on the alter at church, on our knees in prayer. But still…we are content to sit and watch. Or maybe, we aren’t watching at all. Perhaps we’re sleeping, and we don’t want to be woken up. But Jesus says arise. He doesn’t tell us to wait until you’re married, or perhaps at a more respectable age. He doesn’t tell us to wait until the election is over, or until we have finished college classes. He says rise, and He says to do it immediately. The question is, are we willing? And as I’ve said before…it really all boils down to this; how much do we love Him?

A Faith That Triumphs.

 

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. - Charles Spurgeon | Carmelle made this with Spoken.ly:

Does my faith triumph?

That’s a question I have had to ask myself several times in the last few months. For years, I struggled with doubting my salvation. I’ve mentioned the sleepless nights before in previous posts, wondering if God really saved me, if He was really there, if He was really hearing my prayers and caring about me. I would spend nights in prayer, wondering why He wasn’t answering, but finally, I discovered the two things that were missing;

  1. I wasn’t meditating on His Word. The only time that I opened my Bible was during church services. After that, it was closed and forgotten about. When I did decide to read, I would read a single verse, then close it. God speaks through His word, and I was ignoring Him.
  2. I wasn’t actually trying. I lacked repentance. I had no desire for faith. I didn’t really understand what being a Christian meant, and the thought of spending so much time in prayer and in the Word seemed so boring and annoying to me. I didn’t know God, not really.

But eventually, I began searching more. I got serious, and during a church service, I rededicated myself to the Lord. I found my faith, but it wasn’t strong because I would have a good few days, then I would slip back into my old ways and go a week without pursuing Christ. I went back and forth for a long time and then, at another service, I was very convicted by the Spirit and went to the alter in prayer. The Pastor’s words spoke to me and I felt God urging me to go up to the alter…at this church that I had only gone to a few times, full of hundreds of people that I did not know.

God, that’s a bit outside of my comfort zone.

But then, the Pastor said these words in a very serious voice. “Yield to Him. Yield to Him.” And for whatever reason, those words pricked my heart and I realized that I had never yielded. I hadn’t given Him my life, not really. He’d saved me, but I was still holding onto certain things. I wasn’t willing to move out of His way, either. But that night, I yielded. I went to the alter and I prayed, other young people surrounding me and praying as well. I prayed with the Pastor, I got my heart in the right place. Since then, I have had bad days. A lot of them. But I’ve found the way to get out of the bad places. Through prayer and His word. During trials, I tend to lock myself in my room, my phone and TV shut off, a hymn playing on my computer, my Bible in front of me, my knees on the ground, just spending time with Him. Slowly but surely, I started to do that during the good times, too. I’ve found out how to ground myself, how to plant myself and plant my faith and water it. How to make it grow. How to yield to Him. I was finding out what my faith was made out of.

Then this week came along, and everything started falling apart a bit. I went slipping back down into my old place, feeling like I was ready to flee. I felt ridiculed. I felt worthless. I felt like everything that I had been doing was only making matters worse. I felt like I was pushing away friends, ruining relationships, and you know what all of those ruined relationships and ridiculing boiled down to? What was causing all of this strife?

My faith.

That faith that I was so proud of. That faith that I was clinging to with everything I had in me. It wasn’t a prideful faith, I was truly devoted to God and I was proud of Him. Oh, the love I felt for Him. I was listening to sermons again, enjoying church, studying my Bible more, praying more…and because I am so very flawed, these trials put a big crack into my foundation. Suddenly, I realized, once again, that my foundation has to built by God, not built by myself. So I prayed and asked God what I was doing wrong. Why am I ridiculed? Why is my faith causing so much strife? Why am I being put through these trials?

He gave me a very clear answer, and I had a big “duh” moment. What does the Bible say about trials? They are there to make us stronger, to remind us about why we’re following Christ in the first place. They remind us to turn to God and let Him strengthen us. James 1:12 says that those who go though trials and tribulations will be rewarded. Why do we endure these things? Because we love Him.

James 1:12

Perhaps, my faith failed all of those times before because I didn’t love Him enough. How can you love someone that you don’t truly know? I wasn’t seeking Him out and so, I didn’t love Him. I couldn’t. The love that I needed in order to get through trials wasn’t there before. But this time around, I had that love. I read books written by great Christians; Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Fanny Crosby, Jim & Elisabeth Elliot…none of those people were without trials but they persevered. I want that faith. I want to be able to stand firm no matter what anyone else says, and no matter how many people ridicule me for it. The Bible also says,

2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Am I living as Godly as I could be? Absolutely not. I fail Him on a daily basis. I don’t pray enough, I don’t study enough, I don’t think of Him enough. But I am slowly starting to attempt this life, and Satan isn’t going to let go of me without a fight. And a fight he has given.

My faith couldn’t triumph because I wasn’t even trying to get there. Those trials showed me what I was made of, and here is what I was made out of…

I was spineless. Faithless. Unrepentant. Unwilling. I was an actress, pretending to be something that I wasn’t. My foundation was made out of sticks, not stone and bricks. Satan blew, and there went my foundation, falling down with his breath. I want to be the exact opposite of who I was a year ago. Two years ago. When trials come and show me what I’m made of, I want my humanity to be peeled back until all people can see is the Holy Spirit moving in my life and holding me up. I want people to see where my strength is coming from, where my faith is coming from.

Amazingly, I went through this trial with an even greater respect and love for God. He reminded me that He let Job go through terrible trials. He let King David suffer. He let Paul suffer. All of His children have gone through terrible things, far worse than I have ever been through, and their faith triumphed. Nothing is too hard for God, and He is very capable of carrying me through these tribulations. Suddenly, the girl with terrible anxiety was no longer crying in her bed at night, wondering if God was there, but she was sitting in that same room, head in her Bible, ready to face whatever Satan through at her next.

I’m learning “where my help comes from” and that help is from the Lord. Not from me, not from Christian friends, but from Him. Everything that came along and inspired me, like the sermons, the hymns, all came through God. Because for once in my life, I let Him speak. I let Him take the battle on for me, and He triumphed. 

 

But Be An Example.

Here are some words that I have heard very often…

“She is too young to really know what the Bible says.”

“She is too young to be posting on a Christian blog.”

“She is too young and has no right to say anything about what God says about certain things in public or towards others.”

The key words to all of those statements are too young. You see, for years, I have been told that I am too young to do certain things, and for a very long time, I believed it. Instead of being inspired by most of the Christian people in my life, I was told to be quiet, to stop asking so many questions, to refrain from getting involved in “adult conversations” that were about the Bible or scriptures. I am very, very blessed to have been raised in a wonderful home and to have parents who urge me to search the scriptures and to be able to discuss things and even have respectful debates in my home over what the Bible says. I can remember doing Bible studies with my family and having the freedom to discuss things that confuse me, and even to put my thoughts into decisions we made based on what I believe God was telling me through prayer, scripture or other people. I’ve always felt important in my home, even though I am young, I have felt like God can use me despite my age. Like my opinions still mean something even though I’m only seventeen. But still, I spent a long time being ashamed of my age outside of the comfort of my house. When people asked me how old I was, I would answer truthfully with a sigh because I knew that people wouldn’t take 14, 15 or 16 year old me seriously. Why would you want to come to a young person and talk to them about the Bible? Ask for advice? Seek out wisdom? And yet I so badly wanted to have these discussions and be taken seriously. I so badly wanted to be able to write posts about God and be taken seriously. Not because I want others to accept me and be proud of me and praise me, but because I desperately wanted to make a difference for God, yet everyone kept telling me to wait until I was older.

And goodness, waiting seemed like torture. Waiting still seems like torture.

At the age of seventeen-and by the way, this is the first time I’ve admitted to my age on this blog because of my feelings on this-I am still very ashamed of my age. I feel as if my readers will laugh at me and think…no seventeen year old girl can be taken seriously. No seventeen year old girl can have enough knowledge on scripture to be writing about it. And although I’ve recently begun to feel a bit better about this after a few discussions with a person that I admire greatly, and through my studies on what the Bible says about age, I’m still stuck with this feeling of inadequacy and this is a sore spot, even now. So today, when my age was brought up again, by a family member, no less, I was hurt, and I immediately started to question myself and what I post. But here is the problem; when I doubted my posts, I was doubting God because He has guided me through every post I make. Every post I make is carefully written, and I pray over each post. I know that God is calling me to be here, to post what I post, to do what I do, and even though I don’t listen to Him every time, I try my best. I was stung, and even though I hate to admit it, I almost wanted to stop what I was doing. I felt extremely inadequate and unimportant. But then, I was reminded of this verse in 1st Timothy 4:12.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

This verse…the first verse I memorized as a younger person, a verse that my own mother frequently quotes to me when I’m feeling this way, back in my head again and at the best of moments. Let no man despite thy youth, but be thou an example. Being an example at seventeen is laughable to me because I’ve let my human doubts seep in. I let other people sway my opinion on myself. How terrible is that? When God doesn’t care about age or how long you’ve been saved as long as you are actively seeking Him, actively loving Him. My value and my knowledge is not based on my age, it is based on how I am seeking God. This fear kept me from speaking out in church today during our discussion time because I was ashamed, I felt like I would be laughed at, mocked, because I am not a wise 50 year old woman who has been saved for 30+ years of her life and knows so much more than the young teenaged girl in the pew beside me. But age is just a number, and it is not something that should ever hold us back in how we serve God.

At the age of 19, Charles Spurgeon began his ministry. He was preaching and filling pews as a teenager, on fire for God after being saved. In fact, it is said that his boyish appearance contrasted greatly with the maturity of his sermons.

A.W. Tozer was saved as a young teenager and thus began his ministry.

And if you want to look into Biblical times, we will see many young people being used for God’s glory. Young men and young women alike, being called out of their sin and called into God’s embrace, stirring up revival, filling up pews, sharing the Gospel with a sin-darkened world as teenagers and young adults. We want to look at these people and say that we are not even worthy of being compared to them, and I will be quick to agree, but really…aren’t we wrong? Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, was simply a young man who loved God with all of his heart and wanted to tell others about Him. Did God love him more than He loves me? What if Spurgeon had of had people tell him to wait until he was older to preach? What if he had of listened? What if, instead of preaching at the age of 19, he had of been more like a normal teenager and kept quiet? Would souls have remained lost? Would his fire have burned out because he stifled it himself by waiting? I am able to acknowledge what Christ has saved me from, a lifetime on earth, miserable and apart from Him, and an eternity in Hell, so what stops me from telling others? What stops me from seeking out more and more knowledge on scripture? Why should I not talk about what I learn? Why should I not be on fire for God? I refuse to let other people hide my fire because they think it is too bright for my age. How does that make sense to us?

There are people dying. There are lost souls all around. This world is getting worse, and there is no time for me to wait until I am older and perhaps a bit wiser. God does not call us to wait until we are a certain age to share the gospel…He simply says to share it.

 

What Is Unacceptable?

We tend to look at this world and notice the big things first. Whatever we see as unacceptable, and that seems like the biggest deal. Homosexuality is now considered normal and something that should be accepted, every single time we watch the news, we hear about a shooting, a riot, or people getting hurt by others for no reason at all. We hear about vicious attacks against our country, against our people who have done nothing but carry on with their lives. We get upset over a man not standing for the national anthem, most conservative Christians claim to be angered over the thousands of abortions happening weekly, we see spouses lying and cheating on one another, children being neglected and abused, and we look at how bad this world is and we think to ourselves, “Something has got to change.” So, we try doing everything we can to make this world into a better place. We try to help others, we try to keep rowing, as the men in the book of Jonah did. Just like those men, we know the problem, and we know the true solution if we are Christians. The problem is sin, and the only way to fix things is to go to God and let Him work through us. His power is the only way out of this mess. He is the only one who can conquer this sin and heal our nation, heal our world, heal our personal lives. But nevertheless, as scripture says, we continue to focus on these big things and try to fix them ourselves without looking at our lives and finding out what we’re accepting. We may not accept the big sins like I listed above, and yes, that is good, and that is a start; murder, riots, harming others, homosexual acts, adultery, all of those things are sinful and we need to be speaking out against those things, but we have to look in our personal lives first and get ourselves cleaned up before we can ever help anyone in the world.

The men cast lots, and they landed on Jonah. Jonah admitted that he had tried to escape God and His plan for him, he admitted that he was the reason why the storm was raging, why the sea was destroying their boat. And these men knew that the only way to solve this problem and save their boat and everyone in it was to cast Jonah into the sea. In other words, if I can make this personal and try to say what these verses mean to me, that boat is our heart. That boat is our personal life, and we’re holding onto a Jonah. We have something in our lives that is causing the sea to rage on, that is causing the storm to come in and demolish everything. This country, as much as I love my country, has a Jonah that it desperately needs to be rid of. We know that later on, after his time in the sea, Jonah repents of his sin and comes to God, sparking a great revival in Ninevah just as God had planned, but at this point, he was still a sinful man. He hadn’t yet prayed to God in repentance. Those men knew this, and they knew that they needed him out if they wanted any sort of peace in their lives. If they wanted their lives to continue.

Jonah 1:10-13. Notice the words in italic.

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

So, these men, these seasoned sailors who had no doubt gotten through many storms in their lives, could not carry on. They rowed hard, scripture says. They tried doing everything they could to get this boat to dry land, to save themselves. Picture it. There is a raging storm, the sea is furious, shaking the boat, tossing them around like dolls while they yell at one another, “Just keep going! Just keep going!” They try as hard as they possibly can to save themselves. This was not a calm journey, they were not talking to Jonah peacefully. Can you imagine them yelling over the wind and thunder, over the sound of the crashing sea? Jonah! What do we do? How can we save ourselves?!” Can you imagine their fear when they realized that they could not save themselves? Imagine how torn they must have been when they knew they only had one solution, one thing left to try. To cast this man into the sea. God was already planning there in the sea. He knew what He was doing, and He knew that no harm would come to Jonah or to them, but these men did not know this. Jonah was probably even looking down at the sea, wondering if he would die there. If his fate would be to die in the waters. Similarly, we may look at this world and all of the terrible things happening and wonder, “God, what do we do? How do we save ourselves?” We may wonder if this is our fate, if this is our destiny, if this is God’s plan, for us to just sit in this world as it practically goes to Hell before our very eyes, for us to sit and watch nonstop riots, nonstop murders, to watch sin take over everything, even our churches! Even our Christian homes! But if only we would look at our lives…our boat, if you will, and stop trying to row by ourselves and do what God told us to do all along.

14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

All it took was for them to cry out to God and declare that they could not do it on their own, and throw away the the thing that was holding us back. To throw our Jonah into the sea once and for all, and then…maybe then, the sea will cease from her raging.

If we want to see this world get any better or to have any sense of peace back, to have any form of godliness, we have to start with our own lives. The men accepted Jonah, even after they found out that he was fleeing from God and the reason that the sea was raging. We need to do exactly what these men did in the verses 14 and 15. We need to listen to God and do as He says. One decision saved many, many lives. Because they made the decision to throw him into the sea, Jonah was swallowed up by that big fish and carried on to Ninevah. One decision made a huge difference. Can you imagine how big of an impact we could have if we examined our lives and did something about the sin that we found there?

In Clarence Sexton’s most recent message from the Jonah series titled “Into The Sea with Jonah” (which can be found on YouTube, for anyone interested.) he asked the question, “What is unacceptable in our own lives?” and this question convicted me and stirred my heart. I am guilty; I focus on certain big things, like what is going on in this world, things going on in my family, and I have the bad habit of forgetting that little sins are what take us to the big sins. I forget to examine myself and make sure there is nothing standing in the way of God in my life. Am I doing anything that is wrong? Am I doing anything that should be unacceptable in my life? Am I doing something that God finds unacceptable? You see, I want a fire in my life. I want to be full of zeal. I want to be on fire for God and I want nothing in my life that He finds unacceptable. I do not want to be an average-joe Christian who takes Christianity casually. I look at men and women like Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot, and people like the men and women in my personal life that I have met and have impacted me, and I want to be like them. More importantly, I want to be like Jesus. A lot of people have a problem with that, when someone says that they are pursuing godliness, at least, that is what I have noticed. But we are Christians, we are called to be Christlike. I understand that I will never be like Jesus, I will never be very Godly or a complete saint until I am made perfect in eternity, but that does not give me a license to stop trying. I want to view sin as sin, and therefore, no matter how big or small it is, no matter if it is seen as acceptable by society, I want every sin to be unacceptable in my life. I want to view sin as something serious, something that needs to be thrown out of the boat now. I do not want to tarry. I do not want God to look at me and say, “nevertheless…” I want Him to look at me and said, “She cast it into the sea.” Not that I tarried, not that I waited for the perfect moment, that that I did anything unwillingly or without zeal for Him.

That sin may be something tiny, something like the music that we listen to, the shows that we watch, the time-or lack thereof-that we spend in prayer vs. the time we spend on personal time. It may be how we treat our friends, how little we share the Gospel, or it may be something big. We may be cheating on a spouse, be caught in a huge lie, be committing sexual immorality. Either way, that sin-or sins– need to be thrown out of the boat now so that we can see peace, and we can do just what those men did when the seas stopped raging. When the storm was over and they had done what God commanded.

16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

We can fear the Lord, we can sacrifice for Him, we can make vows to Him, to serve Him and love Him. And then, maybe because of our actions, we will inspire others to do the same. Maybe, we will see a revival in our Ninevah, our America, or wherever our country may be. We all have parts to play in this if we want to see revival, and revival starts with us. It starts with our personal lives, and our own actions. We come to the ends of ourselves and see that we can’t give orders, we have to take God’s orders.

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ”
A.W. Tozer

 

When We Stop Expecting.

The churches in America today are full of dead Christians. Now, before you get angry with me and leave comments telling me about how wonderful your church is, how great your Pastor is, or how amazing the choir or worship leaders are…I want us to really think about this. To pray about this. First, I want to ask a question; when was the last time we saw a real revival? Now, a lot of churches have annual revivals. In fact, most churches have scheduled revivals once or twice a year. A preacher comes, talks about God’s word and we spend some extra time in prayer during that week. But that is not a true revival. Unless something changes because of that revival, unless that revival stirs us up and creates true worship, it is not revival. You are simply going to an extra, run of the mill church service. When was the last time several people from your congregation went to the alter in heartfelt prayer and prayed together? When was the last time you saw your Pastor on his knees at the alter praying with his congregation? When was the last time that you saw evidence of a revival? We can pray, we can have an extra church service and call it a revival meeting, we can sing a few extra songs that get us all stirred up, but that isn’t true revival. Sometimes, it isn’t even true worship. One thing that this country needs the most is a true revival. People coming to the Lord, faces on the alter and on their knees. People getting saved and being changed. We need people to find out what real worship is. We need to spend nights in prayer with each other. And I’m not talking abut the so-called prayer meetings that most churches during the middle of the week where we spend 10 minutes in scripture and 10 minutes talking about prayer requests. I’m talking about God’s people coming together with emotion. Trying to figure out what they need to do for God, trying to figure out how to help this country, how to get people saved. Time spent in actual, heartfelt prayer. That doesn’t happen very often.

True revival changes people, and not just for a few days. True revival doesn’t just wear off after we’ve been out of the church for a couple of days. We need true revival. We need to get real, we need to wake up and see the shape that this world is in. If we were really revived by these wimpy revivals, we’d be going out and sharing the gospel with lost souls. We’ve be praising God, no one would be able to quiet us down. We’d see how bad this world is and see how desperately we need our Savior to wash us and make us clean. So why do we see so little revival in America? In the world? We’ve stopped expecting God to work.

“The Purpose of Man” by A.W. Tozer.

I can’t imagine how fed up God must be when He looks down at His so-called churches and sees how we are acting. We sing about revival, we pray for it in passing after Sunday service, but really…we aren’t expecting it to happen. We watch TV and think we’re doomed. And yes, this world is bad, but that is no excuse. In fact, that should be the very reason why we are passionate about revival! How many times do we read about revival in scripture when everyone else had given up? God brought revival to many sinful cities. Why do we think that He can’t bring it to the United States of America? To Washington, D.C? To New York City? To Tennessee? You may say that you do believe in His power. You believe that He can bring revival, so, what is your excuse? Why aren’t you doing anything to see that revival?

Here is our problem; we are spineless and we are lazy. Now, when I say we, don’t get offended and say that you or your church are on fire for God. If you are, good for you. This post may not be about you, it may not be for you. But let’s be honest, 99% of the Christians today fit into this lazy and spineless category. We are weak, we are scared, and we have lost our faith in God and what He can do. We’re asleep and by the looks of it, we’re very comfortable and we don’t really want to wake up. We talked a little bit about Jonah in my last post, about all of the things he did in order to flee from God’s calling in his life. Jonah was a like like us in the beginning of his journey; God called him to share His word in a bad area full of scary people. We view America in the same way that Jonah viewed Ninevah. Maybe Jonah would have been willing to preach in a nicer part of town, but no, not Ninevah. Similar to how we might be willing to talk about God in the safety of our church, but not outside of it. Or maybe, we’ll talk about God to our Sunday school teachers, our Pastor, but not to those people who seem like they’re backsliding a bit. And just like Jonah went to the ship and ran to Joppa instead, in the words of Pastor Clarence Sexton in his latest message from the Jonah series, we go with Jonah to Joppa. We board that ship with Jonah. Why? Because just like Jonah, we’re doubting God’s will and when we doubt God’s will, we’re doubting His ability to bring revival to a sinful world and save people. He has done amazing things for other people, look at what happened in Burlington. And because of that revival in Burlington, the man who preached there is now trying to schedule other revivals, the people who got saved there (at least the several that I know personally) are still on fire for God. That is a revival led by the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t put on a strict schedule by people, it went on for as long as God wanted it to go on, there wasn’t special music to get us excited about ourselves, it was simple. We could be having that. True worship and true revival is something that God desires for us to be having, so what are we waiting for?

We have to remember how to worship God properly. The contemporary church has confused us greatly, but regardless as to how most Christians now think, worship is not singing a popular song and waving our hands. Worship is not getting excited while our worship team plays drums and guitars. A.W. Tozer brought up a very interesting point in his book The Purpose of Man, where he said this about worship;

“On a Saturday night, a “praise and worship band” will hold a concert in a hall downtown. After one song, the audience explodes in applause accompanied with cheers and a standing ovation. To cover his track, the lead singer will say, “let’s give a clap offering to God!” If you do not think that this is crowding the line, do this. Take the lyrics of the song that caused such uproar and give it to one of the dear old saints at church on Sunday. Make sure it is one of those saints with an impeccable reputation of holiness and unimpeachable Christian character. Usually this will be one of the saintly prayer warriors at church. Have this person take the lyrics to the pulpit and quietly read them to the audience. If that does not create the same effect as the night before, maybe it was not the truth in those lyrics the people the night before were applauding, but the performers. The path of heathen darkness to worship always mirrors the culture around it rather than the Christ within.”

Our revivals stem from worship. We can not truly worship God while doubting Him. It seems a bit silly to get on our knees at the alter and praise Him like this; “Oh, thank you God for saving us! Thank you for saving our souls from Hell, the place that we deserve. Thank you for washing us as white as snow, for sending Your Son to die in our place. It’s too bad You’re not going to send another revival and save more people. I guess we’ll just sit here and be the last to be saved!”

We may not say that to God, but we might as well be saying those same words. We’re assuming that God is done, whether we realize it or not. When we sit in our pews day after day unchanged by the Gospel, unchanged by the Bible, not convicted at all by our Pastor or the other people in our church to go do right, to stop sinning so blatantly, and to start sharing the Gospel to other souls with a passion knowing just what we’re saved from, we are assuming that God is just done. Maybe, He doesn’t deserve that much of our worship. Worship isn’t listening to a nice band during church, worship is something we do every single day of our lives, with our lives. We should be serving Him daily, constantly in awe of the things that He did in scripture, the things that He has done in our lives, and be expecting Him to work again. We should be praying for revival and knowing that with God, all things are possible. He can do this as long as His people stop living like the world, so helpless and depressed over the shape that this world is in.

“Whenever the church came out of her lethargy and rose from her spiritual slumber and into a renaissance and revival, worshipers were always back of it all.” A.W. Tozer.

Nowadays, we’re bored. We’re just bored. The idea of being in a church that only sings hymns sounds like a snooze fest to most young Christians, they have to have a peppy worship team with nice acoustic guitars and drums to wake them up. It should be God waking you up. We don’t want to have a real prayer meeting on Wednesday’s because the idea of sitting on an alter or in our pew just praying for however long it takes sounds horrible. We’ve got places to be, after all. But this is how we can work the best for God. We can do nothing for Him unless we can sit in a pew and pray.

Now, I’m not bashing any type of music. I’ll be honest with y’all and say that I’m definitely a classical music girl. My YouTube history is full of Chopin, Bach and old hymns. I joke and say that I was meant to live years before when I was actually born. I like a handful of contemporary songs, not because I necessarily have anything against the song Oceans, or other popular songs that play on the radio, but because listening to hymns is my preference. That’s personal. But let me be a bit blunt and say something that will no doubt offend some people; the reason why we started bringing in the contemporary music is perhaps not because we feel that we worship God more reverently because of them. The reason why is because we got bored with the old music and worshiping God like that. Now, if you can pray about this and feel fine with the contemporary music, that’s between you and God, and I certainly won’t judge you for it, but I really want us to look and ask ourselves why we prefer that type of music in our churches, in our worship time. God demands that we worship Him as He deserves, with reverence. He is holy. Are we truly worshiping Him with our words, similar to how David used his Psalms, or are we getting our emotions and minds tickled by music that sounds like secular music? When we compare the lyrics of contemporary Christian songs to the lyrics of hymns, I wonder, which could I more easily see in the Bible? Which one could I picture people singing in Heaven as they proclaim God’s holiness? Psalms and poetry and old hymns are quite similar; if it was good enough for the greats that have gone before us, for the people in the Bible, are they not good enough for us? What makes us so different and special that we need different music now, too?

Tozer also said that if we are bored of worship, we are not ready for Heaven, and I wholeheartedly agree. If we can not stand worshiping for long periods of time, revival is not going to happen, and frankly, we’d probably prefer it that way. God forbid something come and stir us up out of our comfort zones.

I want to see a church full of people singing hymns and expecting God to work. When they sing Victory for Jesus, I want them to expect that victory to come again and again. When they sing about revival, I want them to be so full of worship and adoration for God that they know He is capable of bringing revival today. I’m tired of seeing Christians who mope around and continue on, living like they were never saved. We were saved. So worship and expect Him to do it again and again.