Consider the Bluebonnets

Re:Verse reading–Luke 12:22-34 (day two)  But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? vs. 28 

I’m not a native, most know that I am very proud of my Missouri roots. There is one thing that I adopted as soon as I got here 18 years ago…the bluebonnets. There is just nothing that compares to driving down a country highway and seeing that feast of color. Did you know that there are fields of flowers that sometimes go completely unseen? Can you imagine? Why did God make such vibrant beauty and not force folks to take a look at it? As a matter of fact why did he need to create so many different kinds of flowers, with different shapes, colors, and smells at all?

If God would take such care for something so transient, shouldn’t it make you take a breath? Maybe that’s why he did it after all, so that the next time you saw those patches along the highway you would stop, breath, and let go of all the stuff that is cluttering your mind.

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Consider

Re:Verse reading–Luke 12:22-34 (day one) 

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.”–v 24.

A wonderful word.  Nothing exactly like in English.  Consider–katanoeo.  (kata=down, noeo=to think, “to think an issue down to its logical conclusion”)

Some people stop short of the full teaching of Christ on material possessions.  “Do not worry. . .about what you will eat. . .or wear.”–v 22.  These are undeniably His words.

But we also have a positive power against anxiety.  We can REPLACE thoughts of not having enough with accurate, inspiring thoughts of God’s economy at work in the world. We can meditate on His generosity.

“God spends more in a day feeding His sparrows than the King of France makes in a year.”–Martin Luther.   We live under a generous and global providence.

Doesn’t make my anxieties go away.  Does give me something inspiring to consider as I face life without fear.

 

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Cry against it

RE Verse reading–Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-11 (day seven)

“Go to Ninevah the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”-1:1

The Hebrew words are helpful.   Qara (ka ra’) meant “to call or cry out”.  Al meant “upon or against”.  The idea is SPEECH that “puts pressure ON” or “argues AGAINST” the status quo.

Strange assignment, isn’t it?  To represent God’s truth into the political/social/moral conversations of men.   To re introduce God as the first principle.  To call men to repent of unbelief and wickedness.   To warn of God’s judgment.

It is a job we frequently side-step.  It feels so negative, so intolerant.  Who wants to be “that guy?”  Right?

But if all men will ANSWER to God (see 2 Corinthians 5:10), then part of His mercy is to WARN them in advance. And if we belong to God, how can we edit or refuse to speak the message He gives us?

Jonah resisted this assignment.  Do we?

 

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Happy Fruit of a Holy Fear

Re:Verse reading–Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-11 (day six)

Fear is not all bad. After all the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We know why Jonah fled, he fled because he wanted nothing to do with God’s mercy towards the Ninevites. His lack of fear of the Lord produced a hardened compassion-less heart; he was much more concerned with his own comfort than the desperate need of an entire people.

So fear is not all bad. Fear the Lord, for it is not only the beginning of wisdom but the also the beginning of faith. It is there that we taste the goodness of God, his mercy and compassion through Jesus, each day moving us further away from self-centeredness to selflessness. We can’t help but love the Ninevites.

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God’s Fierce Mercy

Re:Verse reading–Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-11 (day five) 

Often people will say the God of the Old Testament is judgmental, harsh, and filled with wrath, while in the New Testament He is merciful, gracious, loving, and forgiving. Yet, what we find is that there is NO Difference in His nature and character from Genesis to Revelation. There is a “fierce mercy” found in His nature throughout scripture. He demonstrates it in Jonah. He is not hindered or threatened by seemingly man made boundaries (geographical, moral, social) in His love and kindness for people. Jonah knew this to be true about God (Jonah 4:2).

In the New Testament, Jesus is the perfect picture of God’s mercy as He crossed many of the same boundaries to seek and to save the lost. His love for lepers, tax collectors, sinners, and criminals was clearly evident.

Are we filled with that same view and perspective to love and to minister to people?        Are there boundaries (moral, social, political) that we will not cross to share the gospel? God’s mercy says there are none.

 

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God Appointed a Worm

Re: Verse reading—Jonah 1:1–3; 3:1–5, 10; 4:1–11 (day four) 

As a college student just a few years ago, I was influenced spiritually by one of our BSU staffers, Chuck Kelley.  (Dr. Charles S. Kelley, Jr. is now president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)  Chuck shared with me one of his favorite Bible verses…Jonah 4:7.  “But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.”  Chuck said if God could use a worm, then surely He could use him…he was encouraged….I was encouraged!  I have shared this verse countless times over the years to encourage others.

God also used this worm to help re-orient Jonah to what was truly important…the hearts and souls of people.  How often do we lose sight of what is really important?  How often do we get distracted by our selfish pride so that we no longer see what has real value?  Once we are distracted from truth, fear rushes in.  Only faith can restore our vision!

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Difference

Re: Verse reading—Jonah 1:1–3; 3:1–5, 10; 4:1–11 (day three) 

“O Lord, is this not what I said?”  Does it matter who God involves in the running of this world?  Apparently Jonah didn’t think so: The Lord was going to do what the Lord was going to do, Jonah reasoned, with or without him, and the results would be the same no matter what.  But that assumes individuals and outcomes are interchangeable.  Are they?  Years later, Peter learned that Jesus was going get certain things done with John and certain other things done with Peter’s own life.  Peter heard that he himself––not John, not those other men––must follow the Lord.  No one else will do what you have the power to do when God calls you to act.  God in his wisdom has determined that this moment needs you.

 

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Protecting Pride

Re:Verse reading–Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-11 (day two)

He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”  1:12

Rather that confess or repent for his willful act of disobedience, Jonah’s choice is further rebellion. Knowing that his actions have set this storm in motion, his choice was to kill himself rather than follow God’s command. This act is both arrogant and cowardly. Jonah could not see beyond his own prejudice to God’s greater plan for the Ninevites. Are you where Jonah was? Are you willing to throw everything away to protect your own pride? Jonah knew exactly what he was supposed to do, I would suspect you do too. It’s a matter of figuring out which priority is ultimately going to rule the day: yours or God’s.

 

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I Surrender Part

Re:Verse reading–Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-11 (day one)

Remember that great old hymn, “I Surrender Part”?  Yeah, me neither.

Usually unconscious, but still very common.  We surrender to Christ but withhold whole sections of self.

Hold back your willingness to love a black man, or a policemen, or a Muslim, or a Ninevite–doesn’t matter, actually–then you are in the same boat with Jonah. (pardon the pun) Hate doesn’t play well in Heaven.  Doesn’t matter what you have experienced.  Those who receive God’s love freely, but place conditions on who they will give it to are only partially surrendered.

Somehow, we expect more from Jonah.  He, after all, is a prophet!  Long and distinguished career of service.  (See 2 Kings 14:25)  Only proves the struggle is real for everyone.  Whether Abraham (sacrifice of Issac) or the good Samaritan (inconvenient, needy person) or Jesus (cross),  God only wants to know one thing–do I have all of you?  Have you surrendered it all?

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Calming the storm

Re:Verse reading–Daniel 3:1-2, 8-18, 25-29 (day seven)

In Mark 4, the Bible reports the night Jesus calmed a storm.  He spoke.  Winds and waves immediately became peaceful.  An amazing act of divine authority.  Only God!

Daniel 3 records a similar miracle.   Slightly different storm.  In a tense and fearful moment, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced potential (and painful) death for resisting the King, but God gave them peaceful, certain hearts.  He spoke (through His word) helping them know what to do and say.  Supernatural strength.  Spiritual comfort.  The anxiety died down.  Calm!  Certainty!  A miracle from God–one that we still need.

Miracle number 2 in this story? God takes them out of the fire.  Miracle number 1? God takes the fear out of their hearts.

“In everything by prayer and supplication. . .let your requests be made known to God.  And the PEACE of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:6-7.

He still calms storms.

 

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