Red Lights

There are moments in life when God is sending green lights and you have the all clear to move. In those seasons you better move because God is opening doors and you can be confident His favor and blessing is on your life. Other times God sends red lights and is instructing you to stop. You’ve probably already guessed the right thing to do is stop, but come on don’t we sometimes wanna blow through the red lights? We’re having so much fun moving forward, we feel so productive, God is blessing us why would we slow down?

Because He is telling you to, that’s why.

You can be sure if God is instructing you to stop there is a good reason. When we ignore His instruction to stop and instead keep moving forward, we will find that His hand of favor and blessing will be removed and the road ahead will begin to get difficult. We will wonder why we aren’t seeing the same results. Why? Because before we were moving forward in obedience to God and now we are moving forward in opposition to God.

Jeremiah 7:23 (ESV) But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’

Life is made up of seasons. Some seasons are about seizing divine opportunities while others are about preparation. In every season through our purpose should remain the same. Obey the voice of the Lord as He leads us through the path of life.

Why am I writing about this today? At the beginning of the year, I very strongly felt the Lord leading me to begin writing and I have been using these devotions as the vehicle to fulfill that goal. This weekend, as surely as I felt that prompting to begin I have felt that it is time to stop. I can’t tell you why I feel that, only that I do.

For many of us, we like to have all the answers right away. However, that isn’t how God works. His word is a lamp to our feet, not a floodlight. We usually only ever see a little bit ahead of where we are going and rarely the final destination. I do not know if this means to stop writing always and forever. More than likely it is only for a season. I have learned to really enjoy writing and I don’t believe the Lord is finished using me to write and teach His Word.

All I know is that for the foreseeable future I will not be publishing consistent weekly devotions. I do believe the Lord is leading me into a new season, even if I don’t yet know what that season is.

Since this is the final one I am publishing for a while let me leave you with what I believe is the most important thing we can do. Listen for His voice and obey it! Obey every Word He speaks. Treasure His words and regard His Word (THE BIBLE) with the utmost respect. Read it, study it, meditate on it, apply it to your life and live it out every day without compromise.

It is without question consistent obedience to the voice of the Lord that will transform your life.

I want to thank those of you who have subscribed and/or been faithful readers. I am appreciative of your kind words and encouragement. I pray you will continue to grow deep roots as you pursue the Lord. I pray you will be a people fully equipped to build the Kingdom of God right where you are.

Listen for His voice and strive with all you are to obey the Lord.

Don’t Be Like Jonah

Have you ever seen a movie and found the main character to be completely unlikeable? That’s how I feel whenever I read the book of Jonah. We grow up hearing this story, Jonah ran from God, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and then Jonah obeyed God. Yay! What a wonderful story, but there is more to the story. Yes, we should learn from our mistakes and obey God, but can I offer one piece of additional advice?

DON’T BE LIKE JONAH!

Now, I might be wrong, but I feel like this guy did just about everything wrong in this book. That’s not to say that Jonah was a villain. Come on, he was a prophet called by God to be His mouthpiece and deliver His messages. That’s pretty amazing and I’m sure Jonah was an amazing prophet, until the Lord said this:

Jonah 1:1-2 (NLT) …“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

Jonah’s like, NO WAY! He gets up and runs the opposite direction. Why would he do that? The reason makes me so mad, but the author of the book wisely doesn’t get into that just yet, so I will follow his lead and we will look at the reasons later. So Jonah gets on a boat with some sailors toward Tarshish. That doesn’t work out so well.

Jonah 1:4-6 (NLT) …the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

When we make bad decisions God has a way of trying to help us along the right way. For Jonah that meant sending a storm to get his attention. Sometimes in our lives we go through storms and we cry out for God to stop them, when what we need to do is step back and examine our lives. Is it possible we’ve been disobedient? That isn’t to say every storm is a result of sin or disobedience, but either way we need to run to God and trust Him through the storm.

Jonah 1:8-10 (NLT) Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.

Whenever I read the Bible,  I try to put myself inside the story. When I was reading this not too long ago I stepped into the role of the sailors. Those poor men. They didn’t do anything to deserve the storm. I don’t believe it was God’s will for them to be in that storm, except for one important detail. They let Jonah into their boat.

Sometimes we go through situations not because of anything we did, but because of the people we’ve let into our boat. Who we decide to let into our lives is an important thing and many times will determine the direction and storms you face. Why? Because the people you choose to spend time with will influence you!

Often we choose our friends based on who makes us feel the best, or who we enjoy being around the most, and while that is a very important part of friendship we have to ask if you really want to be like them? Because we will always become like the ones closest to us. We don’t usually notice, because it happens very slowly over an extended period of time, but it happens every time.

Here are some good questions to ask: Who do you spend the most time with? Who do you most admire? Are those two groups of people exactly the same? If not why? We should spend time with the people we most want to become like. Seek those people out and ask them to be your friend or mentor.

And if you discover that you’ve allowed a Jonah into your boat what do you do?

Jonah 1:11-13 (NLT) And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” 12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it.

We don’t like it when someone tells us not to hangout with someone. Cutting negative influences out of our life is something we resist greatly. No matter how bad the storm gets instead of ending the relationship, we just row harder and harder trying to fight the storm. That usually doesn’t get us anywhere we want to go. Sometimes we even end up damaging our life past the point of repair.

We have to take the difficult step of obedience.

Jonah 1:15-16 (NLT) Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

The moment they obeyed, the storm ceased. I don’t know what storms your facing in life right now, but take a look at who you’re traveling with. Are they bringing you closer to God or are they perhaps stirring up the waters of conflict in your life? Has the Lord been dealing with you about cutting ties with some of the negative influences in your life? Today might be the day you need to move past the point of contemplation into the dive of obedience.

It can be hard sometimes, because what happens to your friend once you let them go? What happens to Jonah? We have to learn to trust that God will take care of them. God will meet their needs. He most certainly knew exactly what Jonah needed.

Jonah 1:17 (NLT) Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

That’s right Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, but we’ll look more into that tomorrow.