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Are You Living in a Big Fish?


Big FishJonah 1

Why do you run from God? What has he told you to do that you’re trying to ignore? When God tells you to do something it’s never for your benefit alone. It’s for the benefit of others. His discipline for your disobedience affects other people too. This storm you’re in could be one of your own choosing. It threatens the lives of those in the boat with you. They may not believe in God, they may not trust you, but those people are desperately trying to keep you afloat because your life affects theirs. Your bad choice costs them something. You may think the storm can’t get any worse. You’re wrong. Step out of the boat and find out. You could be living in a big fish.

Jonah 1:11-12, “And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, ‘What should we do to you to stop this storm?’ ‘Throw me into the sea,’ Jonah said, ‘and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.’

Would you rather die than obey God? Jonah wasn’t looking for a ride on the cruise ship Shark Bait. The story never says God wanted Jonah thrown into the sea. That was Jonah’s answer. The other men on the ship tried to row to shore, but sideways wasn’t the direction God wanted for Jonah. Jonah needed to repent. He needed to go back. He needed to simply obey. I wonder what would have happened if Jonah had answered their question differently. What if he would have said, “Turn this ship around. I’m going to Nineveh.” I’ll bet this tale wouldn’t be quite so fishy.

Your complicated solution to the problem won’t work. If your brilliant plan doesn’t involve simple obedience you’re not as clever as you think. Your desperate attempt to punish yourself will fail. Your last-ditch effort to ignore God will lead you to someplace even worse. Why not take the simple way out? Why not relent? Why not give in? Why not just turn around. Why not simply obey?

God’s going to get you where he wants you. He will accomplish his purpose in you, through you and sometimes even in spite of you. To a large degree, how you get there is up to you. What has God told you to do and where are you in the story? Are you about to run? Are you asleep on the boat? Is it beginning to rain? Are you in over your head? Are you living in a big fish?

Turn around. Simply obey.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving me enough to discipline when I’m headed the wrong way. Thank you that your discipline, difficult as it may be, is still often softer than the guilt, shame and punishment I put myself through. Help me to clearly hear your voice. Get me out of this fish I’m in. Give me a heart that is soft to your will. I don’t want to run ahead of you or lag behind. I want to walk with you, go wherever you lead, and do whatever you ask me to do. When I’m wrong grant me the gift of repentance. Let me turn around before the storm comes. Let me get things right before I’m thrown off the boat. Let me choose wisely for your glory, my benefit and the good of others. Protect my family and friends from the effects of my bad choices. Thank you for surrounding me with people who love me and who try to keep me afloat when things get rough. Help me to listen to them and to you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Faith on the Farpoint

I don’t like to admit it, but my faith is pretty small. I’ve never really faced down a giant with only a sling and a stone. I’ve never given sight to a blind man. I’m met with bored indifference every time I tell a mountain to move. For that little feat the Bible says it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. Have you seen a mustard seed!? My faith must be very small indeed.

So how do you grow in faith? What does it mean to have faith on the farpoint? What can be done to develop what little faith that I have?

Faith on the farpoint is faith overflowing. It is faith enough to face giants, heal the sick and move mountains. It’s the kind of faith that believes God and acts accordingly.

The Bible tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, like an athlete in training, faith is something we can develop. Here’s how.

Faith is for the Hearing
Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” In order to grow in faith you must be IN THE WORD. There are several ways you can do this. The first is by reading God’s Word daily. I call this a devotional. It’s something you can do on your own. It’s also something friends from church can help with. I wonder if a daily, online devotional would help you get in to the word daily. If you’re interested, click here, and answer this week’s poll about this very thing.

You can also exercise your faith by hearing God’s Word preached at church. Every Sunday there are two worship services where the Bible is boldly preached. There are countless small group Bible studies called Sunday School. Throughout the week is Disciple University, FAITH, Ladies Bible Study and a host of other informal opportunities to get into the Word. If you’re faith is small the first step is to get into the Word.

Faith is for the Asking
The disciples tried to help a demon possessed man and found they couldn’t. Jesus said, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” The lame man asked to be healed. Jesus healed him. The blind man asked for sight. Jesus made him see. The Roman Centurion asked grace for his servant and Jesus raised him up. Faith is for the asking. We ask God for things through PRAYER. Did you notice that none of these people asked God for faith? They demonstrated their faith in Jesus by going to Him as the solution for their problems. When you pray, it’s adequate to ask for faith, but it’s exceptional to ask and expect God to provide your needs according to His riches in glory. I won’t say more here, but I’m convinced we don’t ask for nearly enough. And when we ask we ask amiss that we might spend it on our pleasures. The fact that we’re asking for wrong things doesn’t mean we should stop asking. Like a musician practicing for a concert or an athlete practicing for the big game we should keep asking till we get it right, till we understand the right things to ask for!

Faith is for the Disciplined
Again with the disciples – remember, “…this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is about discipline. It’s about managing your appetites – not simply for food but for everything you desire. I’ve heard it said that sin is meeting a God given desire in a God-forsaken way. Fasting is the practice of submitting our appetites to God’s control rather than indulging in the whim of the moment. Our faith is strengthened when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

This week your faith can grow. Listen to His Word. Ask Him to meet your needs. Discipline yourself to follow Him in every thing. And in doing so live the adventure of faith on the farpoint!

Love y’all, God Bless,
Chad