Tag Archive | Christian

Is Your Storm More Like Jonah, Job or Jerusalem?

Poor economic times hit many people hard with homelessness, foreclosure, little job opportunities, jobs well beneath skill level or filing for bankruptcy.  While it is easy to blame others for these times, It is also beneficial to evaluate how your actions contributed to the problem.

Jonah, Job and Jerusalem all faced overwhelming difficulties. Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish, Job lost his home and family in a day, and Jerusalem’s King assassinated every family member over a feud. Their lessons can be applied to your life today.

Jonah.  He knew what God wanted him to do. He just did not want to do it. So he took a ride on a ship headed in the opposite direction.  A great storm nearly sank the ship. The crew then confronted Jonah. He confessed that he was the problem and told them to throw him overboard.  Still defiant towards God, Jonah would rather face death then do what God wanted.  The crew reluctantly did as Jonah asked and God in His mercy caused a great fish to swallow him alive.  He remained in the fish for three days until he repented and God released him.

Have you ever known what God wanted you to do but you refused to do it?  Maybe you are in this place right now. Your storm could be a direct result of not disobedience to any of God’s commandments.  The good news is that it is not too late to do the right thing.  Perhaps your economic situation is the result spending more than you have or wanting things that are out of your price range (also known as envy, lust or covetousness).  Take a lesson from Jonah (only, don’t wait until a fish swallows you up) and repent.  Rather, decide to live a life based on gratitude for what God has provided instead of looking over the fence to see what others have.

Job.  Unlike Jonah, Job did not do anything to deserve losing all he had.  Instead Job found himself in the middle of spiritual warfare between God and Satan.  God knowing and trusting Job’s faithfulness allowed Satan to take his home, his wealth, his family and finally his health.  Job was left with three friends who questioned his every action and provided little comfort in his time of need.  In the end, God answers Job’s questions as to why He allowed such tragedy to happen. He reminded Job that He is the creator of all things, the giver of all life, the designer of all forces of nature, the author of all wisdom, the provider of judgment, the source of all strength, the owner of all things, and the defeater of all evil.

Have you had everything taken from you and then turned to God to ask why He would allow such a thing to happen?  Maybe this describes you better than Jonah and you have searched your heart and actions for what you have done wrong and found nothing.  The temptation is to blame God for the state you find yourself in and question His divine nature.  Instead recognize that there are spiritual factors beyond your control and influence.  What you can control in this environment is your reaction, your continued commitment to God, your faithfulness to His word, and your love of His commandments.

Jerusalem.  After the split of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom following the reign of King Solomon, Jerusalem had a series of Kings both good and bad.  Repeatedly in Scripture we learn that God was displeased with the people and their continued offering of sacrifices to idols.  The idols took different forms and required different sacrifices from small tokens of money to live people.  Even the good Kings failed to completely remove all of the idols from the people and as a result God allowed the evil Kings to take over the land.  The evil Kings would frequently assassinate to gain power, murder family members of previous Kings, and rule through intimidation and fear.  The people who were promised protection by God if they followed His commandments were left without protection from both their own Kings and neighboring nations.

Have you ever wondered why our nation has fallen so far from the original design of the Constitution of the United States and why we seem to be in constant battle with other nations?  One of the mistakes the people of Jerusalem made was looking for the King to do the right thing and then to follow him.  The people had access to the Prophets of the time who willing spoke God’s truth to anyone who would listen from Kings to servants.  As a people we too can look into our own lives and recognize how we are part of the problem our nation faces.  Instead of waiting for the politicians to get it right, we need to get it right in our own homes.  Idols take different forms today but the concept is the same, it is anything that we trust for security or worship more than God.  It can be TV, video games, money, house, job, car, 401K, computer, news, internet, family or friends.  This is not an exclusive list as the point is to evaluate your own life and see if you have an idol you need to remove.

Tough times are difficult to weather.  Reflection into your personal life for potential causes of the tough times is even harder.  But if you evaluate your life using the lessons learned from Jonah, Job and Jerusalem by acknowledging the problems, repenting from the problems and renewing your faith and commitment, the blessings and promises of God will stand in the end.

What is Spiritual Warfare

Oftentimes, spiritual warfare is seen as an attack from the outside.  Some larger force is coming after you with the intent to cause harm.  These attacks can take the form of financial failure, marriage infidelity, natural disasters, rebellious children, economic depression, war, or dissension in churches.  And sometimes, this is spiritual warfare.  But sadly, other times these events are direct consequences of our own actions and desires.

The greatest battle for spiritual warfare is not the larger than life events happening outside; rather it is in the smaller thoughts and feelings stirring inside.

Thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your thoughts.

  • What do you really think about and how much time do you spend thinking about it?
  • Do you replay conversations over and over in your head instead of what you did say?
  • Do you fantasize about how to get even with someone who has caused you harm?
  • Do you image achieving a great result to vindicate yourself in front of others?
  • Do you focus your thoughts on one area of our life (i.e. work) at the expense of another area of our life (i.e. family)?
  • Do you wish for someone else to experience the same pain as you?
  • Do you dream about winning the lottery?
  • Do you think about your past failures and wish you had done it differently?
  • Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or other self-depreciating statements?

Each one of these seemingly insignificant thoughts is actually part of your spiritual battle which is more appropriately named distraction.  By distracting you from thoughts that are good, pure, just, and holy, you have taken your focus off of God and onto more worldly desires.  Some of these desires seem innocent such as winning the lottery and giving the money to family and charity.  But in reality if God wanted you to have more money, He would not need the lottery to give you more money. He would just give it to you.  By focusing on the thoughts listed, you are distracted from the things and people God did bless you with and instead are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Feelings.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your feelings.

  • If it feels good, do you do it regardless of whether or not it violates your standards?
  • If it feels good to buy a new piece of clothing, do you do it even if you don’t need it?
  • If it feels good to flirt with someone, do you do it even if it jeopardizes your marriage?
  • If it feels good to have a drink or two or three, do you do it even if you risk becoming drunk?
  • If it feels good to mouth off to someone, do you do it even if you risk damaging the relationship?
  • If you don’t feel like reading the proposal, assignment or book, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like parenting your children today, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like dealing with your grief, do you do it anyway?

Everyone has feelings and some days the feelings are stronger than others, feelings can drive us to do an action or not do an action regardless of how you think.  Just like your thoughts can lead you astray, so can feelings.  Run away feelings turn into a spiritual battle better identified as discouragement.  Fear of discouragement may drive you to do something that makes you feel good in the moment regardless of the consequences. It is important to remember that God created feelings so feelings in and of themselves are not bad.  But feelings which drive our behavior without a thought filter can be destructive.

Spiritual warfare is not always the big things happening around you; sometimes it is the little things happening inside.  Take an inventory of your thoughts and feelings to see if they need a cleansing.  After all, most historians will tell you that the greatest battle is the one you are fighting right now.