Monday, April 25, 2011


Abraham Lincoln wrote: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

Lincoln proclaimed a “National Day of Fasting and Prayer” on March 30, 1863.

Spiritual renewal is always accompanied by repentance. To understand what repentance is we need to first know what it’s not.

What repentance is not:

• Remorse is not repentance.
Being sorry for our sin is only the beginning of repentance. You feel remorse. It leads us to really repent. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus went away sorrowful but he did not repent.

• Regret is not repentance.
Regret is wishing that our sin had never happened. We can regret it but never repent of it. Pontius Pilate regretted his decision concerning Jesus. But did he ever repent?

• Resolve is not repentance.
We can decide that we’re going to do better in the future, and that may lead to reform but it’s not repentance.

What repentance is:

• Repentance is a change of mind which leads to a change of heart which leads to a change of action.

This is what happened with the people of Nineveh. In Jonah 3:8 the king plainly stated…
“Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence”. 

Verse 10 gives the results: When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Dr. A W. Tozer suggested the following for personal spiritual renewal:

1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself.
Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is a stagnant soul.

2. Decide on transformation of all areas of your life.
Timid experiments are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God.

3. Put yourself in the way of blessing.
It’s a mistake to expect God’s help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. To desire spiritual transformation, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion, is to wish one way and walk another.

4. Have faith in God.  Begin to expect.
Look towards God. All heaven is on your side. God will not disappoint you. Spiritual renewal and a changed life are possible if the conditions are met.

In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (Mes)

Monday, April 18, 2011


Sometimes we find ourselves in a crisis that is beyond our control and all we have left is prayer. It’s beyond our control. There is nothing else you can do but pray. What can we learn in situations like that?

God uses crises to teach us 3 truths:


When Jonah was swallowed by the big fish he prayed. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God (Jonah 2:1).

It was “from inside” the fish. He prayed from within the fish. It’s when we’re “inside” the crisis that we cry out to God with all our heart. It’s when we are under water, trapped, and in the dark. Sometimes that’s what it takes for God to get our total attention, our whole heart.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” Jonah was totally exhausted and at the end of his rope. He had no where else to turn. Only then did he cry out to God for help.

When Jonah had turned his back on God, it didn’t bother him to be separated from God.  But suddenly, when Jonah was thrown over board, as he faced death, he found that it bothered him tremendously to be separated from God.

The most terrifying aspect of Jonah’s crisis was when he realized that God had almost given him what he wanted – to be free of his presence. Jonah wanted to run from God. Now the implications of that separation bring Jonah to repentance.


Jonah recorded in Jonah 2:2, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry”.

How do you pray in the middle of a crisis? IMMEDIATELY and SCRIPTURALLY.
I don’t think Jonah waited. As soon as he cleared his throat he was praying. As he was sinking deeper in the sea inside the fish, he was praying. He prayed immediately.

What do you pray when you don’t know what to pray? Jonah prayed back to God what God had already said. He prayed God’s Word back to God. He prayed Scripturally. He quoted from the book of Psalms in his praying. He counted on the promises of God and prayed through Scripture.

In your crisis, pray God’s Word back to Him. That’s how we stand on what He says. That’s how we express our belief in Him. That’s how we claim His truths and promises.


And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:10).

Growing in faith may not be a beautiful emotional experience. It may not be a spiritual high. Most of the time it’s not.

Jonah left on a ship bound for the city of Tarshish, but he didn’t return in the same way. He spent 3 days and 3 nights in the digestive system of a big fish only to be vomited up on the seashore.

The good news is that no matter how much we mess up, or how disobedient we’ve been, or how far away we get from the Lord, or whatever uncontrollable crises we’re going through – there is always a way through it when we trust and obey the Lord. And the journey through it leaves you a changed person from what you were before.

Monday, April 11, 2011


When we sin there are consequences. When we disobey God, there are consequences we must deal with. We bring them on ourselves. But God uses them to bring us back into fellowship with Him. He relentlessly pursues us. He will never ever give up on us.

Jonah chose a path of disobedience. God would have been within his rights to have said, “Jonah, you have disobeyed me, and as such you have forfeited the right to be called my child. I am letting go!” But he didn’t. Jonah expressed his rebellion, but God loved him too much to let him go. The Bible says that God sent the storm. This was not just an ordinary storm but a storm so great the even veteran sailors were afraid.

Sometimes God doesn’t calm the sea; He stirs it up. The issue, whether the sea is calm or stormy, is to choose to live for Christ, to follow Him, and to obey Him. And when the calm sea turns stormy, then we can call out to Him like the disciples did when they were with Jesus in the boat in the storm. And we trust in Him through it. And He delivers us through it.

God loves us too much to allow His us to drift into open rebellion without disciplining us.  David said in Psalm 119:67, 71 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. … It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” God loves you too much to let you remain disobedient. God cares so much about us that He disciplines us.

The British poet, Francis Thompson, wrote an epic poem known as "The Hound of Heaven." In it he pictures someone running from God like a Jonah, only to find that the Lord patiently and triumphantly pursues him until the wayward child rests in the Lord’s arms. The central point of this poem is its outrageous assertion that sometimes we run from God and that God actually pursues us. Here are a few lines of the poem: “I fled from God, down through the nights and down through the days; I fled from God, down the arches of the years; I fled from God, down the labyrinth of my own mind. In the midst of tears, I hid. Under running laughter, I hid from God. Up vistaed slopes I sped, shot hurriedly over chasmed fears. ... But those strong feet of God came after me with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace; with constant speed and divine instancy. .....And a voice, more persistent than the feet, spoke and said: “You are my precious one. I will not let you go.”

That’s the way God is. He is so persistent, so diligent, so untiring in his pursuit of us when we stray. He relentlessly pursues us. He will never ever give up on you.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Have you ever just wanted to run away? We all probably have that feeling once in a while. We just want to get away. Sometimes it is even that way in the ministry. It is hard trying to please a lot of people and it’s stressful at times feeling responsible for many lives. We all have thoughts of escaping at times.

God invites you to join Him in His work. He impresses your heart, speaks through His Word, leads by His Spirit, and influences you through mature Christians. His calling in your life is just as significant as His calling in anyone else’s life. Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)

The problem is that sometimes we don’t like what He tells us to do and we would rather run in the other direction. God called Jonah to take a message of judgment to Nineveh. God said to Jonah in Jonah 1:2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."  Nineveh was an up-and-coming world power in Jonah’s day. It was the most important city in Assyria. Within fifty years, Nineveh would become the capital of the vast Assyrian empire. It was a great city but it was not a nice place. Their cruelty was known throughout the world. These were definitely not nice people and to put it frankly - Jonah hated them.

Sometimes, God tells us to do things that we don’t want to do. And we feel like turning around and running in the opposite direction. Maybe there’s someone at work you’ve known for a long time. And you’ve heard about the problems they’ve been having in their marriage. And God has pressed it upon your heart to talk to this person and engage them in conversation and to listen to them. And you’re thinking, “The last thing I want to do is hear about someone else’s problems. I really don’t want to have anything to do with that person.” Or maybe there’s someone you work with who doesn’t have many friends. You see him every day. And God wants YOU to be his friend. But you’re not on board with this idea for whatever reason.

God has commissioned you and me to take the gospel to those around us – even if we don’t want to. We may not like some of the things He tells us to do. That’s okay. We don’t have to like what He tells us to do; we just have to obey.

Because God has given us a free will we can tell God “No”. We may say “no” and try to do other things and go in another direction, but we will only find peace when we are in the will of God. The wise thing to do is to choose God’s agenda for us instead of our agenda because that’s what He’ll hold us accountable for.

Like Jonah, when we run away from the Lord, which means we choose not to go God’s way, we never get to where we’re going, and we always pay our own fare. We try to provide for ourselves what we need – inner peace, lasting joy, contentment, unconditional love, forgiveness. We try to take care of ourselves. And we sail right into a big storm.

But when we go the Lord’s way we always get to where we’re going, and He pays the fare. He provides all the things we need. He takes care of us.

“I run in the path of your commands, for You have broadened my understanding.” Psa. 119:32.