AuthorKen Lengel II

Forgiveness From God

As seen in the previous chapter, Jonah was punished for his disobedience of God’s direct command to go to Nineveh. He was in the whale for three days and nights, before he finally broke down and repented of his sin before God. Jonah realised that his sin was wrong, and that he needed to confess it to God before he could open communication with him. Sin can only be reconciled through sincere confession, and that is what Jonah did. God graciously gave Jonah a second chance; likewise Jonah was to give Nineveh a second chance.

(Author’s note: For sake of space the entire passage will not be quoted to the post, but it would be good to read all of Jonah 2 with this post)

Jonah 2:1-2,10 – Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah confessed his sin to God, and God forgave him and put him back on his feet. While this seems simple, it has much greater meaning. Jonah, who 3 days before had rejected the call of God to preach salvation in Nineveh, was given a second chance. Since God will forgive that, and then help us back up, even if we struggle with sin God will be there. He is not going to leave us behind because we sin; but do not use that as an excuse to sin freely. As seen in the previous chapter, God will punish sin; perhaps not by throwing disobedient servants in a great fish, but by other means that will get the attention of a person. Make a note of this as you go about your day.

 

The Disobedience of Jonah

In the book of Jonah, there is a common story that most will have heard taught in Sunday School as a young child. For the next few posts, the author would ask that the readers look at the story in a different light, to see some important truths contained in the text. Behind the children’s Bible story is an important message that can apply to any Christian today. In today’s post, chapter 1 of the book of Jonah will be covered, on the disobedience of Jonah.

Jonah 1:1-2 – Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

The first point that can be brought of this first chapter is that Jonah was called to preach in Nineveh which possibly, from further study of the city, could be on par with today’s Las Vegas, or its nickname: Sin City. A preacher, or in this case, a prophet, would probably not be excited to have to go and preach there, due to the possible hostility of the crowd. However, sometimes a person has to go and do something that they do not want to do; whether it be cleaning the bathrooms at a job or preaching against a wicked city. The principle applies to any job that one may face.

Jonah 1:3 – But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah’s reaction to God’s calling is probably the same response that most Christians today would have to a task they know they should do, but don’t want to do. One may say: “Well, I didn’t jump on a ship to run away from God,” and you probably didn’t. But not doing what God asks you to do is just as bad as running away from Him. You may not be running away from God, but you won’t be running to Him either. And as one will see in the next few verses, one will never have the time or money to escape from God.

Jonah 1:4 – But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

The Lord had never lost Jonah, and when He saw that Jonah has disobeyed, While God is a loving God, sin must and will be punished, and God punished Jonah through the storm and having him thrown into the sea, to be swallowed by the great fish. God uses every situation for good however, and the storm led to the salvation, if you will, of the mariners.

So when God calls, Christians ought to obey. While we may not get swallowed up in the great fish like Jonah did, by disobeying God we lose contact with him, until we confess our sins, and go obey God.

Jonah 1:16 – Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

 

My Help Cometh from the Lord

Where does your help come from? When times get tough, to whom do you turn? While parents and friends often can console in struggles, one must remember that our help, as Christians, cometh from the Lord. The Lord has several characteristics identified by the David in the book of Psalms. The author will discuss these characteristics from Psalm 121.

Psalm 121:1-2 –

If one was to read this over briefly, an important statement would probably be missed and just glanced over. Take a look at the phrase, “which made heaven and the earth.” David is stating that the Lord, who spoke everything into existence, is on our side. How powerful is that statement, just by itself?

Psalm 121:3-4 –

Again a situation where reading over it fast causes issues, take a look at the phrase, “he that keepeth thee will not slumber.” David repeats in the next verse, “shall neither slumber nor sleep.” In other words, God is not going to go to sleep on you while you are praying to him, or any other time. He will always be there. There is no family member or friend that you can always be in contact with, but you can talk to God anytime. Again very powerful to know that He is our help.

Psalm 121:6-8 –

David states hear that “FILL VERSE IN HERE.” What is the principle behind this? God is not going to leave us to the wiles of the Devil during the day, and He also will not leave us to the temptations of the world at night. We are never going to be alone, so we can always turn to God for help, and He will always be there.

So what can we take from this Psalm? God, who made heaven and earth, is always listening to us, and always right beside us. Can this be said of anyone else? What more could a Christian ask for in a friend? Take time to thank God for His friendship today; don’t overlook this precious gift.

Who Are Your Leaders?

Who are your leaders? These people guide your mindset whether you consciously choose to allow them to or not. They can change your decisions on numerous issues, like what you eat and wear for example. However, the biggest change that your chosen leaders can have on your life is your religious views. While some leaders claim the name of Christ, they live their lives entirely different from the truths in the Word of God. The influence that these kinds of leaders can have on your life must be examined and determined as to be good or bad, and Paul in Galatians 1:6-11 gives a strict guideline that your leader must follow to be spiritually in line with God.

Galatians 1:6-10 – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of ChristBut though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursedAs we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Paul starts out discussing that the congregations of the churches at Galatia have chosen the wrong spiritual leaders. He states that these leaders have perverted the gospel of Christ through their incorrect teachings. To hopefully set the churches straight, Paul sets a guideline by which Christians should judge whom they follow.

If your leaders do not preach what the Bible says, do not follow them.

This guideline should be an obvious one for any Christian, but Paul had to repeat it in his day, and perhaps it needs to be repeated even more in ours. Many Christians are going with what makes them feel good, rather than what honors God.

Take contemporary Christian music for an example. Some Christian teenagers will pack into concerts for this music, but would not be caught dead singing an old time hymn. The reason behind this is that teenagers feel “comfortable” being a Christian in an environment that is just like the world, but when it comes to being different, they avoid it because they hate being laughed at by the world. However, Paul asks a pointed question that makes the believers think about whom they follow.

Galatians 1:11 – For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

If you, as a Christian teenager, are either pleasing men, or being pleased by the works of men, you are not living as a servant of Christ. Look at it from this angle. The true gospel does not coddle you and make you happy about living for God. The true gospel teaches you through the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that you need to live differently from the world.

What hero of the faith in the Bible had an easy life? David ran for his life from Saul, Daniel was thrown into the den of lions for praying to God, Paul himself was beaten, stoned, and eventually killed. Why did they stay the course?  Because they were convicted to be different from the world and live primarily as servants of God.   They all realized an important truth. . .

The tribulations and trials that are experienced on earth are a part of a life in service to Christ.  Living to simply please yourself in this life is contrary to God’s plan for your life.

This is not to say that we cannot experience joy or happiness. But, when choosing between what is right and wrong for our lives, we must always begin with our service to God as the deciding factor of choices we make.

The question that you need to ask yourself is, have you realized this truth? Are you willing to abandon the wrong leaders, to be a servant of God?

 

 

 

 

Parable of the Sower

What kind of Christian are you? While all truly born-again believers are going to Heaven, Christians still have a responsibility to live for God after salvation. Jesus Christ, during his ministry on earth, in the parable of the sower, gives 4 examples of people in the world, and that is what the author will discuss today.

Mark 4:4 – And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

Jesus first describes a person who is witnessed to about salvation, but does not accept. The author wonders (note that this is the author’s opinion) if Jesus placed this person first in the order to emphasize the importance of witnessing to unbelievers. Just because a person has rejected the gospel once does not mean you should not take it to them again.

Mark 4:5-6 – And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

Second, Jesus discusses a person who becomes a Christian, but after a little persecution, rejects the thought of living for God. This does not make a person unsaved; nobody can lose their salvation. However, one could make the case that this kind of person would need to do some soul-searching to decide if this is the best path for them to go down.

Mark 4:7 – And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

Third, Jesus discusses the Christian who falls into the ways of the world. The temptations that Satan will throw at Christians are numerous and diverse; the Christian must find a way to avoid Satan’s methods of distraction.

Mark 4:8 – And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

Jesus concludes the parable with a description of what an obedient Christian looks like. Not only does he receive the word, but he bears fruit as well. Not every Christian will bear as much fruit as someone else, but it is important that every Christian bear some fruit.

So what can be taken from this parable? If you find yourself not bearing fruit for God, perhaps you should spend some extra time in study of the Bible and in prayer, to determine what you need to do better. Perhaps a certain activity needs to be dropped from your schedule, or it could be something that only you know needs to be fixed. Whatever it is, take the time to fix it, so you can get back to serving God and witnessing to the lost.

 

Confrontation

 

Confrontation has never been and never will be an easy task. Just because it is not easy does not mean that Christians are not supposed to do it. James, in closing his letter to the Jews, makes a final appeal to them, knowing that it is a difficult task.

James 5:19 – Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

Have you ever felt led by God to confront somebody for something that you know they are doing wrong? Several emotions probably resulted from this leading. One, you may have felt fear of losing their friendship, and the friendship of others as well. Two, you were worried what might happen to that person if you did not confront them. These two emotions pulled on each other and drew you one way or the other, depending on the day.

Let’s put three scenarios on the table. First, we have a young Christian man who is starting to hang out with the wrong crowd. You notice your friend, the young man, and you decide to not confront him about his actions. This young man slowly goes down the path of the world, and gets into drugs and alcohol. He then commits various crimes with his group of bad friends, and eventually ends up dead. His life wasted for God, perhaps because someone did not confront him when they had the chance.

Reverse the scenario now. We have a young Christian man who you see hanging with the wrong crowd. You confront him about it, and he repents and goes back to serving the Lord. He grows up, becomes an evangelist, and leads one of the greatest revivals of all time, perhaps because someone confronted him, when they had the chance.

In a different case, you have a Christian teenage girl who is starting to fall into the devil’s trap. You see her, confront her about it, and she repents. The next week she leads one little boy to Christ at Vacation Bible School. Two days later she is killed in a car accident, but the boy goes on to be a preacher, and keeps his congregation living for the Lord.

The questions that the author wishes to put forth are as follows. Do you care about souls enough, that you you would confront them when led of God? Do you worry enough about what might happen because you didn’t confront someone? Is it worth it to you to lose a friend on earth, to gain acceptance from God in Heaven?

Do you love God enough that if he tells you to go, you would, no matter what?

If there are any doubts about it being worth it, James wrote James 5:20.

James 5:20 – Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

 

Waiting For The Rapture

What are you waiting for? Perhaps it is your next paycheck, or maybe you will finally be able to drive. While neither of those things are wrong things to wait for, there is something better that Christians can look forward to, and that is the rapture. There is a chance that the rapture will not happen in your lifetime, and that is fine, but one should live as though the rapture is coming in 30 seconds. Not only will Christians get to leave the persecution of Christians from earth, but more importantly they will be able to see the God that they had been serving in their lifetimes. James reminds his readers to be patient, in a rather encouraging section of his epistle.

James 5:7-8 – Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

James gives an example of patience; one that no doubt fitted the time frame of his day. Note that the husbandman is not waiting for a new chariot and horses, he is waiting for precious fruit, so he can sell and provide for he and his families needs. The same perspective should be found in Christians looking for the rapture. Christian’s shouldn’t be looking for the next video game or the newest iPhone more than they look for the rapture. They should instead be looking to serve God better with their lives, and in turn be ready for the rapture, if it were to happen that day.

James 5:9 – Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

Grudge not one against another. Since the coming of the rapture is nearer every day, it would be wise to reconcile differences before the rapture happens. Obviously your last committed act on earth as a Christian would want to have been something to the glory of God. To go one step further, if a Christian is bickering with an unsaved coworker or even an unsaved family member, and the rapture happens, for the rest of eternity you will know that you can never ask for forgiveness from that person, and that you could have been a better light for Christ and led them to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 – For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

 

Chasing Earthly Treasures

Give one good reason for a Christian to spend his entire life in pursuit of earthly treasures. Newsflash, either you are going to die and leave all your treasures on earth, or the rapture will take place during your lifetime and your treasures will again, be left behind. With that in mind, take into account something else, something more important. What does the Great Commission say? Does it say: Go ye into all the world and make money? Or how about: Go ye into all the world and become the most famous person ever in your field? No, it doesn’t. Christians are commanded in the Great Commission, to preach the gospel, to all the world. James gives, in his letter to the Jews, somewhat of a little story, describing the folly of the person chasing earthly treasures.

James 5:1-5 – Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Large passage of Scripture, but very important. These few verses describe a man who has lived on earth, solely to get all the good things in life for himself. He had lived a life of luxury and was probably nearing the end of his life. He pulled out his purse to count all the money he had, but when he pulled out the gold, it was corrupted, not good for anything. He then got up to get dressed for the day, and his rich garments were worn out. All his riches were in someway ruined and the misery of the situation overcomes him. He had worked his whole life for glory, fame, and riches, but now he has been decreased to rags. What is the purpose of collecting material wealth that will break, ruin, or go away? Very well Solomon says in Ecc 1:2-3:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Christians have a choice to make. Serving vanity, or serving God. Even if the path of your life has chosen to serve self to this point, a change can still be made. Just because one starts following the wrong path doesn’t mean that they cannot turn around and get back on the right path. Obstacles to serving God will be faced later in life, as the world will attempt to lure you off the correct path. Just remember this, you can serve the God who sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of the entire world, or you can serve the fallen angel that forced God to have to do it.

Joshua 24:15a – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve;

 

 

Tomorrow and Today

What is it about a person’s possible future that makes them so ready to grow up? Could it be that that young person is excited to become an adult? Or perhaps they can finally get a job and have a family. While tomorrow may seem exciting, today is just as important as tomorrow. Christians have the joy of spending not just tomorrow with God, but today as well. Perhaps James noted that his audience needed this kind of mindset change as he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expounded on the principle that getting gain today on earth is not profitable in light of what treasures we could lay up in Heaven today.

James 4:13-14 – Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James gives a scenario in which people have decided, rather than serving the Lord, to go into a city and make money. Too often the scenario happens in which man chooses money over serving God, and that is a dangerous path to go down. Life is but a vapour; it may not seem like it is quick as a teenager, but in reality it really is. To give an example, I had a friend a while back who greatly influenced my life. Eventually he got a tumor in his brain and died from it, which obviously saddened me. But his purpose on earth was done, and God took him home. Whenever your purpose that God has for you in life is done, He will take you home. Life is a vapour, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Do what you can for God today, and leave tomorrow to Him.

James 4:15 – For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

This verse should be the mindset of every Christian. To personalize it for each individual, If the Lord will, ________________. Fill in the blank with every decision you make, but no matter what you put in there, keep God’s plan for your life ahead of everything else. If the Lord will, be a missionary to Africa. If the Lord will, be a pastor of a congregation with thirty people. If the Lord will, His will I do.

Ask and Receive

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.

The commandment for Christians to have a consistent prayer life is clear to see, but it is also important in the day in which we live. Christian principles and values no longer hold any weight to how people live their lives. Revival is needed, but it will not come unless Christians consistently pray for the revival to come for the right reasons and motives. If Christians live how God wants them to live, then they will not be liked by the world. Which is better, the praise of men, or the praise of God?

James 4:1-2 – From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

The first topic James discusses is the topic of having not because of asking not. One of the problems the author has faced before is going stretches of time without praying everyday, and his Christian walk suffering because of it. Consistent contact with God is the only way to get His divine help in one’s life.

James 4:3 – Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Second, James discusses a reason for God saying no to prayer. Sometimes Christians ask for things that they think they need, but God knows they don’t need. There is a difference however, between innocently asking for a supposed need (not knowing the end result of having it granted) and asking for a supposed need for carnal purposes. For example, the author can pray to God and ask for in some way, to get a kitten for Christmas. Now, this is not for carnal purposes, but it isn’t God’s will, and on Christmas the author gets something different. Suppose a guy named Bob prays for a car, but wants it so he can sneak out at night and go party with friends that his parents don’t allow him to be around. That could be seen as a carnal request, and since God sees past the outside, He says no. In either case, God said no to a request that the person did not need, and Christians must accept that and move on according to the Bible’s principles.

James 4:4 – Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

If a Christian loves God, they will be the enemy of the world. If a Christian loves the world, they become the enemy of God. That is a strong statement in verse four. How would you like to known as an “enemy of God?” To some, they probably would not care about the statement and move on, focusing on the temporal things of the world. Being an enemy of God is a problem. Just one serious read of the book of Exodus is enough to give anyone a healthy fear of God’s power and strength. While it may produce a healthy fear, it gives more meaning to Romans 8:31: If God be for us, who can be against us? Our God is powerful, and if we are at His side, that is the safest place to be.

 

 

 

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