The Second Time

One day God told Jonah to join Him in a great mission. God wanted to take God wanted to take Jonah to a greater place in him and for him to grab hold of His fuller purpose for Jonah’s life but Jonah didn’t want to go there because it didn’t sound like an easy thing to do.  To go up may mean we have to face difficulties and hardship and like Jonah we don’t always want to go there. We know it’s not as easy to walk uphill as it is to walk down.  So Jonah went down to Joppa which means beautiful and as people, I think it’s fair to say that we that we prefer the beautiful life.  Jonah paid his small fare to Tarshish but the cost of the ride would be far more. You could say “his decent” was continuous.  He went down to Joppa, down into the depths of the boat and finally down into the deepest sea and all God wanted, was for Jonah to go up. There were great storms and impending disaster until Jonah admitted he was running and was tossed overboard.  Jonah braced himself again the wall of the fish’s stomach, it was very hard to breathe and slippery under foot.  While amazed he was still alive, he wondered how much longer he would be.  As his soul began to grow faint, he remembered the Lord and began to pray.    But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jon 2:9-10

What seemed like a grave was Jonah’s transport to dry land and eventually Jonah is vomited up by the fish.  Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:1-2).

God spoke to Jonah a second time.  This is not the same as a second chance. God is the God of the second chance and many more chances beside but the “second time” is something different.  Let’s think of the other places God spoke the second time and notice it is always about breakthrough and blessing.

When Abraham was about to offer up Isaac in obedience God spoke the first time to stop from offering Isaac!  Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven(Gen 22:15), and said because of your obedience I’m going to bless you!

When Solomon had offered up a thousand bulls as a sacrifice to God in worship, God spoke to him a second time. Again God said He was going to bless and establish Solomon with a new level of favor (1Kings 9.2).

When Jeremiah was in prison “the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time (Jeremiah 33:1), saying, I’m going to heal, restore and favor Israel.  As Peter was on the roof, he was assured that God had declared even the gentiles to be clean.  And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Act 10:15). The second time was a new flow of revelation to Peter.

The significance of the second time is seen by the fact that all of these people weren’t running from God or disobedient like Jonah. So rather when God speaks to Jonah the second time it is not a second chance but the promise of total restoration, complete blessing and the giving a new commission with a new level of favor.  The second time is not just a reluctant reinstatement to the place we fell from but the pronouncement of favor and a new level of authority and purpose.

If you need a second chance God will give you one but He wants to speak to you the “second time.”  The book of Hebrew says “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, (Heb 1:1-2)  Our Father has spoken to all of us the second time.!

Friend, are you ready to go up? Are you ready to follow God into a new place? You can’t decide when God will talk to you but you can decide to offer yourself to him a living sacrifice.  When Abraham offered his best, God spoke the second time. When Solomon offered his best, God spoke to him the second time and when Jonah offered his sacrifice to God in the fish Gods favor and purpose came again to Jonah.

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Greatness

God is great in so many ways. God is great as to His strength and power but also great in His dimensions, and His extent. Actually His greatness is immeasurable along with His excellence and glory. He is not great in comparison with anyone or anything. He is great by Himself; there is no other like Him.  He is not just first, He is the only God and beside Him, there is no God.  He is great as to His age, being without beginning or end; the Ancient of Days but age doesn’t apply to Him. God is great as to His abundance and all that He does. The Greek word for great is mega. He is Mega in His pre-eminence.

On top of all that, all His attributes are great.  So He has attributes like great mercy.  Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” Num 14:19 

Now when you have greatness, it is yours to give away.  King David said  “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all.  Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 1Ch 29:11-12 

You can only give what you have so God is able to give greatness to His people.  He gives His kingdom to his people; He gives His glory in John 17, He gives power at Pentecost and He gives His greatness to His people.

He took the apostle Paul and made a great murderer into a great missionary and it doesn’t matter who you are today, Gods plan is to put His greatness inside your heart and life.  “To know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power”  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, Eph 1:19,  Eph 2:4    God is placing his greatness into our lives!

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Act 4:33 

Even while the apostle preached with great power, great grace was deposited into the heart of those hearing.

Grace is really Divine influence upon the hearts of men. So when the resurrection was preached in great power by the apostle, great grace (Divine influence) came upon the people. As the resurrection of Jesus (The miracle-producing power that can bring something that is dead, back to life) was preached in the power of the Spirit, the same grace or life-giving resurrection power came upon those that heard until faith was born in the faithless, those that were hopeless began to find hope and those who were discouraged believed again. Even the dead in spirit come to life.

Great Grace comes into our lives when Gods great power is talked about.

Friend, what you hear about God and what you can see of God is what you experience of Him. In other words when you see His greatness, greatness gets inside of you.  God is revealing His greatness to us so He can work some of His greatness into us.  Not great skills necessarily or great talents but a great heart, a great attitude, great character, great vision, great purpose and great faith.

 

 

First things first

As Jesus walked slowly through the town “A leper came and worshipped him saying if you are willing you can make me clean.”  To encounter Jesus in worship you have to come to Him.  He came to worship; he came focused and determined. It was premeditated; I will worship. He didn’t say now that the music is slow and they are playing the songs I like.  He worshipped him saying. “You can make me clean.”

When we worship we are always saying something out of our heart. The heart and the mouth speaks.  Sometimes we think that worship is not a vocal but is quiet. Of course, praise is never quiet; praise is always expressive, whereas worship could be a quiet, but still every worshipper is saying something. The leper worshipped Jesus by saying make me clean- not make the famous, rich or even employed but make me clean.  To encounter Jesus in worship our first need is not understand me or even please forgive me but please cleanse me.  That’s repentance!  We can ask for forgiveness and never want to give up our sin and be clean. But the voice from the heart of a worshipper says wash me clean.

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Mat 8:3

Friends, If purity is the desire of our hearts it is likely that we will encounter Jesus consistently. And we never have to question whether Jesus is willing to make us clean. If we cry out to be clean – He will touch us immediately.

 

 

Amazing grace

The Grace of God creates, empowers, equips and calls us for a purpose all by grace.  Paul said “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (1Cor 3:10) 

The Grace given to Paul enabled him in his ministry. He built according to the Grace he was given.  The Grace of God is a gift to everybody but when we receive the Grace of God, He gives something to each of us in a unique way as well, so that the Grace you get, is specific to you in some way.  Grace equips you for a specific task and ministry.  Paul said it enabled him to labour abundantly.     “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Cor  15:10). 

Paul said the Grace of God in him enabled him to be a church planter, a grace which not everybody has.   The Grace of God equipped Paul for his purpose. When you have received a Grace from God, you have received a gift to do something.   Everybody has received a Grace.   Gifts like our motivational gift are from Grace, so you can do that thing really easily.  A server will serve and enjoy it a lot.  An Administrator gift won’t get stressed out having to operate that gift because it is a Grace upon their life, yet somebody else who does not have that grace, could be stressed by it.   It is the difference between burning the oil in the lamp or burning the wick of the lamp. People burnout if they haven’t been using the oil or gift of the spirit so they have to do something they are not gifted to do and end up burning the wick.  So we need to find out what it is we are graced to do and do that.

Friend, Grace is not just a doctrine to be discussed; the Grace of God is something that can be experienced.  You have experienced the grace of God if you’ve experienced Jesus working in your life

Baptism of Grace

When we need something that we don’t have, it is time for Grace.  Grace is our Fathers gift to us, to make up the difference between our weaknesses and Christ’s completeness.  We notice every day the difference between having Grace and not having Grace in our lives.  I know when people start getting on my nerves it’s time to go back to the throne of Grace. When I’m getting uptight and stressed I’ve know I’m running on my own resources.

Samson went into a deep sleep and Delilah gave Samson the most expensive haircut in history.  When we are in the “presence of Delilah” more than in His presence, the strength will drain out and it will need to be renewed.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us but His influence can drain from our life because we are not drawing from Him.  Paul knew from his own experience that the only way to overcome abounding sin is abounding Grace. “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” Rom 5:20 

He also knows that the only way to overcome abounding troubles was also abounding grace.  “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

You don’t have to be a strong vessel so long as you have a strong treasure. Paul was seeking to convince the people in Corinth that he was a true apostle. He had a difficult life.  He was persecuted, stoned and shipwrecked; he was hated by both Jews and false Christians.  The Greeks at the time believed that if you went through difficult times God’s favor was not upon you, so Paul corrected their thinking by revelation rather than logic.  I am going through troubles in seeming weakness that in my weakness God’s power might be revealed. (Note: This doesn’t mean that our situations cannot be changed. Many times people sought Jesus and He delivered them or changed their situation. Your current situation is not an indication that God will not change it, however, while it is unchanged His Grace is sufficient for you)

The Greek word sufficient was used to describe a man who had unlimited financial resources.  Imagine having a credit card with no limit which somebody else would pay off. That’s the idea of being sufficient so with Grace you can master the moment. You can’t exhaust Gods supply of strength to you; It’s just going to keep on coming.  Often we don’t come to the throne of Grace but we struggle on through the day by ourselves.  So whether we need to overcome sin or troubles, we are designed for Grace to empower us.   The Power of the Spirit of grace was so important to believers that Jesus said wait in Jerusalem till you get it.

Friend, don’t leave home without the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

New future

Corinthians tells us that we are new creatures. A brand new species and this new creation potential is totally different from all your family before you.   It’s not your haircut, clothes or address that changes but you. You will see differently at every level so all of life is new. Your perception of God, others and yourself is changed.

How you see yourself is more important than how you see your future. You can be told of a great Promised Land and future but if you don’t see yourself as able to enter in, you won’t be able to enter it. We can’t take the Promised Land with the mindset of a slave. And people don’t get what could be theirs, they only get what they think they deserve or that they are capable of possessing.   The most important vision is not what you see ahead of you but what you see inside yourself.

Israel had trouble in their thinking.  “To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.   Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” Eph 3: 19-20 

God is able to do exceeding above what we can think.   The problem is not with God, the problem is with us- where is the limit of what we can think.   Can we think about ourselves differently and what God can do in us?  We may leave a ministry or dream or idea to somebody else because we can’t think that we are capable. To see yourself rightly is more important that seeing your future rightly.  In fact if you see yourself rightly a new future will appear.   There is a small future for the small self that you see yourself as now and a bigger future for the you, you really are.

Friend, there is a “smaller” future for the small self that you might see yourself as now and a bigger future for the you, you really are.

 

Insecurity

After David had great victories in the fields of battle the bible says that Saul “eyed David’ that day. The very next day a different spirit came upon Saul and from that day forth and the anointing of God began to lift.   Facing insecurity in our lives is important because we cannot give into insecurity and expect the anointing to increase in our life. 1Sam 18.7-18

Inner security is an inner strength from God that people have inside their heart that is like a fortress against the need to find strength and honor from popularity or position; or from the recognition of men or women, or to have the things that the world says is important.   Insecure people don’t have this inner strength in their soul so they feel uncertain and defensive; they feel vulnerable and precarious inside.   They need people around them to help them feel ok about themselves as people.    Insecurity leads to codependency or independence- they either need people to make them feel good or they reject people out of their lives so they can continue to feel okay.

Insecure people don’t want anybody to correct or critique them.   Saul an insecure person feared the people’s reactions.  His insecurity showed up in independence; he never asked for advice, admitted need or listened to the words of Samuel.   When he acted foolishly he couldn’t admit he had made a mistake – even if it meant killing his son. Saul demonstrated that insecure people are threatened by others who are popular or gifted.  It is not a pretty picture; insecurity leads to pride self-will, rebellion, and jealousy, and may end up in hatred and assassination.

Friends, we can all feel insecure at times, that maybe human but we are called to overcome it through humility. The proud will always be insecure. To be humble is to be secure because security doesn’t come from a position but a disposition.   Jesus did not become humble and did not adopt a humble mindset when he came to the planet. He was always humble.  God was humble before the cross; He demonstrated his humility on the cross and continued to be humble after the cross. Jesus was not worried about giving up his position or glory. He was not trying to keep up appearances like Mrs. Bucket; He was not seeking to keep His reputation or social standing.  Acting in love and humility, He came down and mixed with those that sold themselves cheaply and sat with the crooks and the racketeers.  Even now He is still happy to associate with the poor, the needy and those of low degree (us).

Friend, He is excited to see you succeed and wants us to share the same glory and blessing. Let us have the same mind that in is Christ Jesus toward others.

Weaker vessel?

Pual says that we have Gods treasure in earthen vessels.  The word for vessel is “ostrakinos” meaning substandard and not fitting for an occasion.   This type of vessel was not usually seen in the better homes but used by the poor.  As the time went by it come to mean, low grade and substandard.  What is important and interesting is that is the one time Peter refers to wives as vessels, he doesn’t use that word meaning misfit or substandard.

1Pe 3:7  Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

No,he uses a Greek word  “skeuo” which is the word for fine china, not an old pot.  Your wife is like fine china so treat her gently in honour and great carefulness in every situation.   To give honor really means treat as treasured and highly valued at all times.  The idea here about the vessel being weaker is not inferior, but rather it means fragile in the sense of an expensive piece of ceramic. She is not the pot in the garden shed; she is the vase of beauty that is protected from all the grandkids lest it is damaged!  It means to not put her down or make jokes about her in front of people. No pointing out her faults in front of others.  Or dishonoring in front of the children. Not comparing her to other vessels  and remembering her special days.   Why? because that is honour.  Honor is revealed by your seeking to bring pleasure to another. Honor is the best predictor of your marriages future success.

Test of faith

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.   Abraham his 60-year-old wife and travelled south to Egypt. The Faroe noticed her and took her into his house. Jewish legends say that in comparison to Sarai, all other women looked like monkeys. She was even more beautiful than Eve.  As people get older they are attracted to people of similar age, so maybe pharaoh was quite old.  Either way, Sarah was beautiful.

However God had said go into the land I will show you he never said to leave even if there was a famine so when Abraham left the land of promise, he was in effect saying that he believed God could not keep  him in the land promise.

The walk of faith is all about us learning to give the word of God authority in our lives; more authority than what we see or feel. His disobedience threatened his posterity; the nation that would come from him.  Sarah’s womb from whom the Messiah descendant would come could have been defiled by a gentile king.

It was difficult to live in the land of God’s promise but we can be in the will of God and have troubles and testing.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.   And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Jas 1:2-4 

The devils temptation is to not trust God to meet your need and to go back to Egypt and there will be consequences.  Abraham picked up Hagar in Egypt, God forgave him but there were still consequences.

Abram was not wrong for being concerned about famine and feeding his family, but Abram was wrong in thinking God would not provide for his needs in the place where God called him to live. After all, God called Abram to Canaan, not to Egypt.  Abram, like most of us, found it hard to not let what he saw and heard on the TV and in the paper  affect his faith in God’s word.

 

Yet, God sovereignty acted to save him. He did not even awaken Abram to repentance before he did so. He just moved in and said, “I will put the story right again.” It ought to be encouraging to us to see that even this big failure was not too great for God to overcome. The Lord sent Abram back to the land he should never have left and continued the story.

Friends, God is committed to helping us live in his promises. Thank God is not three strike and you’re out.  He is our father he’s trying to help us learn to live by faith.  He knows it’s to our advantage for us to learn to live by faith and He is not put off by our weakness or failure.

On the Lake

The disciples are on the lake with Jesus and a huge storm threatens to swamp their boat and their future.  The lake represents all of us in the circumstances of life. We are in the Boat; in Christ.

Like Noah in the ark; it is not what you go through that matters but with whom you go through it. The wind is always variable but this day the wind is blowing against them.  Sometimes when the wind really bad in life we think it might be the devil, but Jesus had been watching and praying for them and now comes close to encourage and comfort.

Jesus is teaching His friends that everything is always good. If there is no storm everything is okay and if there is a storm I am close by so everything is still okay. In our storm, He comes and He comes for one of two reasons; to bring peace in the boat and still the storm, or so we can walk with Jesus in the storm.   Just because we are born again, doesn’t mean we know how to walk on the water or keep at peace in the boat. Faith in the storm is something we all need to learn.

Peter says “If it is you command me to come to you;” give me a promise. Jesus says “come” so Peter gets out of the boat with his faith in His word. Like Peter we are to walk trusting God about our money, children, job, health or relationship and we are learning not to look at the waves boisterous.

Peter walked till he doubted but when he sunk Jesus didn’t just let him drown but grabbed him and walked him back the boat.  We are all learning.  Jesus never let them sink and He’ll never let you sink.  If the storm is too much, He will catch you and bring you to the boat and still the storm.

1 Corinthians 10.13 says that He knows what temptations and trials you can handle and always has a way of escape.  He may speak to you; He will hold you up; he will bring you to the boat but he will never fail you and we can worship him.

The Wind is stilled and the lesson is over for the day. They realize how great Jesus is; that He is always praying for them; He is always watching them and close by in trouble.

Friend, He is training us to walk on water in storms, He is putting His word in our hearts; He is calling us closer and He is catching us if we slip and you will get to the other side.