Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Jonah was very unhappy about this and became angry. Jonah 4:1 (TEV)

      It was confrontation time. Ever since the day Randy baptized a hundred people, Bill and Robert had sort of disappeared. No, they hadn't got lost at sea again but had been hiding from Randy. They were afraid that Randy might find out the real reason they had gone on their cruise when they did but some how or another, Randy found out and now it was confrontation time.

     Nearly fifty of the natives he had baptized joined Randy as he searched the island for the two runaways as they had been nicknamed by the natives. Randy took half of the helpers and searched the northern half of the island while Joco, one of the natives, took the other half to search the southern part of the island.

     About 2 hours into the search a boy from Joco's group came running up to Randy. "Hurry!" he said as he tried to catch his breath " They - found - them" "That's great" Randy said,"Let's walk over to Joco's group." "No! - Run!" the boy panted out "Trouble - brewing. - They - show - no - mercy;"

     Upon hearing those words, Randy took off running but he couldn't keep up with the boy, he was getting too old to run like that. Eventually they reach Joco and his group and sure enough, trouble was brewing for they had Robert and Bill tied to a stake and it looked like they were about to be barbequed.

     "Joco!" Randy called out "What's going on?" "We caught them runaways." Joca answered back, "We torture them now for running away from God" "You can't do that!" Randy protested "Yeah!" Robert added from where he was tied, "You can't do that." "Hush!" Joco said as he pointed a spear at Robert, "You runaway, you deserve to be tortured"

     Upon hearing Joco's last words the crown started chanting "Show no mercy!, Show no mercy!" After fifteen minutes the crowd calmed back down and Randy asked the crowd if God had shown them mercy. "Yeah!" somebody shouted, "But we not run from God, we just run God's people off"
After a few moments of silence another voice popped up "We not deserve mercy either, do we?"

     Slowly the people started to leave and before long it was just Randy, Robert and Bill. left standing there. With out saying a word, Randy untied the runaways and than he too walked away.

      Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, "God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! "So, God, if you won't kill them, kill me! I'm better off dead!"
Jonah 4:1-3 (MSG)

     Jonah didn't care about the people of Nineveh, and he didn't want the people of Nineveh to be saved, that's why he ran away, that's why he sat outside the city waiting for God to destroy the people. Just like Jonah we all too often don't care about certain groups of people or individuals, we don't want them to be saved, we want to see them wiped out.

     Think about these two stories for a moment - one from the O.T. and one from the N.T.
  • 2 Kings 6:18-21 - As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please make them blind.” So the Lord struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?” (NLT)
  • Luke 9:51-56 - As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind and set out on his way to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of him, who went into a village in Samaria to get everything ready for him. But the people there would not receive him, because it was clear that he was on his way to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then Jesus and his disciples went on to another village.(TEV)
     Should I kill them, should I kill them, should we call down fire and destroy them? Too many people are just like Jonah but what does God want? MERCY! It's good for all involved.
  • Micah 6:8 - No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (NLT)
  • Luke 6:36 - Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.(TEV)
  • Proverbs 11:17 - The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm. (NAS)
  • Matthew 5:7 - "Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! (TEV)
  • James 2:13 - There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.(NLT)
     Here's Something to Ponder
  • Are there those you do not want to be saved?
  • Are you in the business of showing mercy?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


The people of Nineveh believed God. - Jonah 3:5a (NCV)

      It had been nearly three days since the storm washed Bill and Robert over board and the rescue chopper that had been flying over the area was calling it quits claiming the Bermuda Triangle got them. In the mean time Helen and Martha were getting very worried. but they really didn't need to for God had everything under control

     On the island where Bill and Robert had washed ashore, the natives had taken the guys to a nearby hut and brought them some food and drink. "What's this?" Robert asked as he looked at the awful smelling stuff in front of him."I don't care." Bill replied as he started shoving it in his mouth. "It's food and I'm starving." Reluctantly Robert ate too.

     After they had been eating awhile a little boy asked them what happened or at least that's what Bill and Robert thought he asked. Not sure if the people understood English Bill and Robert tried to act out the story of how they ended up on the island. As they acted out their story a crowd gathered and thinking they were comedians they laughed and laughed and laughed.

     Finally, on of the natives hollered out "You guys are hilarious!" When Bill heard that, he stopped and turned to Robert "They speak English." he told him. "Yeah, I heard." Robert and stopped his acting as well. "Do you guys speak English too?" another native asked. "Of course we do." Bill told them. "Than what's with all the acting?" the native asked.

     "We didn't know anyone spoke English on this island and we were trying to tell how we got washed overboard and ended up here." "Than why don't you tell us." the native hinted and the crown got silent. "I'll go first." Bill said as he looked at Robert and than proceeded to tell how they went on a cruise and were going to try and catch a shark. When Bill got to the part about the storm, Robert took over and told how it was his fault they got washed overboard trying to see the Bermuda Triangle.

     As they told about their time in the water and the troubles they had the people listened with great interest. "How did you survive all of that?" one of the natives asked. "It was God who helped us to survive" Bill answered, "It was God who saved us." When Robert heard Bill say that he got an idea. "Just like God saved us," Robert said, "He wants to save you - not from the ocean but something even worse."

     "That's right!" came a familiar sounding voice from somewhere in the crowd. As the guys looked around to see who had said that, Randy appeared. "Who wants to be saved?" Randy called out and hand after hand went up. "If God can save those two guys, He can save us." Someone said and than Randy started baptizing people into Christ and by the time he was done nearly a hundred people had been saved.

     After Jonah had entered the city and walked for one day, he preached to the people, saying, “After forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed!“ The people of Nineveh believed God. They announced that they would stop eating for a while, and they put on rough cloth to show their sadness. All the people in the city did this, from the most important to the least important. When the king of Nineveh heard this news, he got up from his throne, took off his robe, and covered himself with rough cloth and sat in ashes to show how upset he was. He sent this announcement through Nineveh: By command of the king and his important men: No person or animal, herd or flock, will be allowed to taste anything. Do not let them eat food or drink water. But every person and animal should be covered with rough cloth, and people should cry loudly to God. Everyone must turn away from evil living and stop doing harm all the time. Who knows? Maybe God will change his mind. Maybe he will stop being angry, and then we will not die. When God saw what the people did, that they stopped doing evil, he changed his mind and did not do what he had warned. He did not punish them.
Jonah 3:4-10 (NCV)

     In this chapter Jonah we find Jonah deciding he better obey God and when he does something great happens - the people of Nineveh repent, but unfortunately too many people are just like Jonah Now that may sound funny because we see Jonah doing what God told him to do and we see the great results but all too often we don't do what God tells us to do and we don't see the results because we become hindrances, we get in the way - something that is frowned upon in the Bible
  • Romans 14:13 - So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. (NLT)
  • 1 Corinthians 8:9 - Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (NIV)
  • Luke 11:52 - "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (NIV)
  • Mark 9:42 - "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. (NAS)
     So what happens when we get out of God's way, when we quit being a hindrance to God's work and do what God would have us to do? From Jonah's example we can see several things that happened
  • The Ninevehites believed God.
  • The Ninevehites changed their ways
  • The Ninevehites cried out to God
  • The Ninevehites were saved from destruction
     When Jesus left the earth he told his disciples to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15. God wanted the Gospel spread around the world so that all could be saved but people were not going into all the world, they were hanging around Jerusalem. God sent persecution and the people started moving and the Gospel spread.

      Here's Something to Ponder
  • Are you hindering God's work?
  • Is God working through you?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


When my life had almost gone, I remembered the Lord. - Jonah 2:7a (NCV)

      As their cruise ship had entered the area of the Bermuda Triangle a major storm come upon them and all passengers were ordered below deck for their safety. Not wanting to miss out on his chance to see the Bermuda Triangle up close, Robert convinced Bill to help him sneak top side and when they went up a giant wave washed them overboard.

     As they desperately tried to swim back to the ship, one wave after another pushed them farther and farther away and soon the ship was out of sight. Getting tired from their efforts they started to sink and would have soon drowned had it not been for life boat that happened to get knocked loose in the storm as well. In hopes of reaching the boat, Bill put forth one last effort and caught hold of a rope from the boat and they were able to pull themselves to the boat and crawl in - totally exhausted.

     The next afternoon, Robert was awoken by a thud on the side of the life boat. As he opened his eyes and peered out into the ocean he saw what appeared to be a triangle floating across the water. "Bill !" He shouted, "Bill! There it is - the Bermuda Triangle." As Bill came too he looked in the direction Robert was pointed. "That's no triangle! Bill exclaimed, "That's a shark!"

     Sure enough, what they saw was a shark, several of them. All afternoon the sharks circled the boat as the guys desperately tried to make the boat move away from them. but no matter how hard they tried, the boat wouldn't move. The boat did have oars they tried to use but the sharks kept biting them off. As night began too fall, the guys tried to cheer each other up by telling each other that tomorrow would be better but when tomorrow came another problem came with it.

     When Robert opened his eyes the next morning he glanced over at Bill and saw a large chili dog. "Yum." Robert thought and crawled over to have a bite. "Ouch!" Bill screamed as he opened his eyes and what he saw was a large fried chicken leg waiting to be devoured." From than on Robert and Bill chased each other around in that little boat trying to eat each other until they loss their balance and fell in the water and quit hallucinating.

     Hanging on to the edge of the boat with sharks swimming around their feet, they started to think that the mission trip might not have been so bad after all and started to pray asking God to save them since they couldn't do it themselves. As they prayed, they started to move. When they looked up to see how they were moving they saw something pulling the boats rope through the water but they weren't sure what it was.

     A couple hours later they saw land and before they knew it what ever had been pulling them disappeared and they floated in to shore and on to the beach. Once on the beach they were immediately surrounded by a bunch of french fries and milk shakes or was it people, they weren't sure but they were happy to have finally been rescued.

     While Jonah was inside the fish, he prayed to the Lord his God and said, “When I was in danger, I called to the Lord, and he answered me. I was about to die, so I cried to you, and you heard my voice. You threw me into the sea, down, down into the deep sea. The water was all around me, and your powerful waves flowed over me. I said, ’I was driven out of your presence, but I hope to see your Holy Temple again.’ The waters of the sea closed around my throat. The deep sea was all around me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. When I went down to where the mountains of the sea start to rise, I thought I was locked in this prison forever, but you saved me from the pit of death, Lord my God. “When my life had almost gone, I remembered the Lord. I prayed to you, and you heard my prayers in your Holy Temple.
Jonah 2:1-7 (NCV)

     When we think of Jonah we almost always think of how he ran away from a God given command and was swallowed by a whale. We may think that as a prophet of God he should have known better but do we ever think about how much we are just like him. Like Jonah, many of us would rather run the other way, come up with excuse, plug our ears, or pass things on to someone else than do what God would have us to do.

     As we continue our thoughts on Jonah and how much we tend to resemble him we turn to chapter two where we find Jonah praying in the belly of a big fish / whale but his prayer took time in coming.

     As a prophet of God we would think that Jonah would be devoted to prayer, that praying is one of the first things he would have done but when trouble came it wasn't Jonah that was praying it was the ungodly sailors. - Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” - Jonah 1:14(NLT) As for Jonah it took him another three days before he decided he should do some praying - The Lord caused a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. - Jonah 1:17 (NCV) It was than, when his life was almost gone that he remembered the Lord and prayed.

     The bible reminds us on many occasions to remember the Lord and to take our worries, etc too Him :
  • Deuteronomy 8:17-18 - You might say to yourself, “I am rich because of my own power and strength,“ but remember the Lord your God! It is he who gives you the power to become rich, keeping the agreement he promised to your ancestors, as it is today. (NCV)
  • Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years when you say, “I find no pleasure in them.“ (NCV)
  • 1 Peter 5:7 - Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.(NLT)
  • Philippians 4:6-7 - Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (NLT)
     Despite these reminders, like Jonah, we tend to wait until trouble has been hanging around for awhile before, until we're in the belly of our whale, before we turn to God. Can you imagine what life would be like if we didn't wait, if we didn't hesitate, if we prayed first and worried later.

      Here's Something to Ponder
  • Do you ever have need of prayer?
  • How long do you wait to pray?