BY JOSEPH BRAZIL
Ask any child in Sunday School what they’re favorite Bible story is and you’ll probably hear the same answer. Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water, or the walls of Jericho falling down, are all likely top choices. But one reigns supreme.
Jonah and the big fish.
Even as an adult this account perplexes me. It’s really an awesome example of how important we are in God’s service. For those a little sketchy on the story’s details, here’s the unofficial Cliffnotes version. Jonah was called by the Lord to go minister to the abominable city of Nineveh, but Jonah refused to obey and took matters into his own hands, paying cash for a fare on a boat headed for sea. The Lord created a storm and threatened to sink the ship. The crew ends up throwing Jonah overboard and the seas grew calm again. Jonah is then swallowed by a huge fish. He has a change of heart and cries out to God who has mercy on him and has the fish spit him onto dry land.
Long story short, Jonah goes to Nineveh and the entire city repents and turns to the Lord.
I think you’d agree we’ve all had “Jonah moments,” those times when we clearly feel God convicting us to answer His calling. I want to say I’ve always made the right decision in those situations, but I haven’t and there have been times when I’ve opted to ignore or flee, as Jonah, thinking I can evade God’s plan.
BY MEGAN OAKS
For the past few weeks my family and I have been doing some summer traveling. As I’m sure any of you with kids know, traveling can be a lot of fun and at the same time very daunting.
I typically go into these times with the highest hopes, full of anticipation for new things we’ll see, memories we’ll make and the bonding my three acorns will share. My husband on the other hand, the yin to my yang, tends to have a less positive outlook on the experience; he calls it realistic, I call it negative.
Either way, our trip always ends up landing somewhere in the middle of our ideas, yet so far we’ve survived and some would say are stronger from the experience.
As we were traveling a few weeks ago with some extended family, making our way to Roswell NM, my 5 year old daughter asks me from the backseat “Mom, are we there yet”… those infamous four words that loom like a dark cloud on every family road trip.
BY ELLEN MARTIN
Psalm 23 is a familiar passage for most of us. Psalm 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
When I read a Bible passage that is familiar to me, I don’t really spend time mediating on it because I think I already know it. But although we may be familiar with a passage, we should spend time meditating on and studying it. God reveals things to us through His Word, regardless if we have read that passage before or not.
Psalm 23, especially verse 4, resonates with me because it is saying that through the difficult times, God is there. We have nothing to fear. This one verse goes beyond saying that we have nothing to feel to say that God comforts us with His rod and His staff. Even through difficult times, God is teaching us something. It may be difficult to see it in that moment, but in hindsight we may be able to see what God was doing.
Megan Oaks | @MeganCOaks
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Growing up I can remember reading this verse and taking it as waiting patiently on the Lord for his plan to be fulfilled. As an adult I have a completely different understanding of this command. As I’ve grown in faith and understanding of the word, I realize “waiting” does not mean to sit idly by and twiddle my thumbs waiting for God to do something; but rather it is a direction to get up and wait ON the Lord, to do His work and be His servant.
Joseph Brazil | @blackdog575
You’d probably agree being a believer in Christ comes with its share of difficulties. Although we are in the world and meant to be separate from its influence, our human nature constantly reminds us of the lifestyles we mean to steer away from. What happens, then, when the weight of God’s calling grows too heavy to bear? What’s your first reaction when you look around and see the world passing you by as you toil away at what you know God has imparted upon you?
It can be taxing at times. Even life-threatening. Just ask Paul and his sidekick Silas.
Cipriano Martinez | @ciprianom79
For many years I was under the notion that we all have total control of our own lives. Now this might be true for many of us and many of us may feel we need control to make decisions that gear our futures. But what if I told you that being in control can cause unwanted ramifications? Don’t get me wrong -- I understand in being the spiritual leader of my home that I have to make many decisions. But are these decisions based on my own control or on a control greater than myself?
The very first principle in a Christ-centered program called Celebrate Recovery is, “Realize I am not God”. Read that slow a few times out loud. Many times we take it upon ourselves to play the role of God in our own lives. When we do this we take control. I recall asking God a few times to “take the wheel” and telling Him that I am giving Him total control of my life. Hours don’t even go by before I realize that I am a back seat driver or even driving myself again.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Today, I’m reading chapter 5 of Genesis.
When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” –Genesis 5:18-29 (NIV84)
Chapter 5 takes us from the birth of Adam’s son Seth to the birth of Noah and then his sons, setting us up for the one of the biggest stories in the Bible.
Uplifting Devotionals for Christians Overcoming Habits, Hang-Ups, & Hurts