A Second Chance

We left off with Jonah on dry land, after being in the belly of a fish for three days. This is where Jonah has to make another choice. “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1-2). I love this next part! “Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.” (Jonah 3:3). I don’t see any arguing here or debating, just simple obedience. God said do it and Jonah got up and went. What a way to follow through in repentance. Sometimes we can make all kinds of promises to God if He will only get us out of this pit, then we will do – you fill in the blank. I pray we have a Jonah response when given another chance.

When Jonah starts walking across the city, God gives him words. He set out and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” (Jonah 3:4). His message was clear and simple. The response is shocking! “Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth – from the greatest of them to the least.” (Jonah 3:5). One man, going where God tells him and speaking what God tells him to speak. And the people responded! What had caused their hearts to soften and be ready to believe? Easy, it was God.

The message keeps going. “When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” (Jonah 3:6) Now the leadership has gotten involved. He has taken off everything that separated him from the people of his kingdom and trades his throne for ashes. When I looked up the word sackcloth, Wikipedia mentions words like “worn as a token of mourning, sign of submission, grief and humiliation”. Oh, and they were typically made from goat’s hair. I’m not sure what the people of Nineveh typically wore, but I highly doubt the kings royal robe was made from goat’s hair. What a trade and such a humble example.

“Then he issued a decree in Nineveh: By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Further more, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoings. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:7-9). Can you imagine if this happened in our day? Would the people of the US so willingly submit to our president? The answer grieves my heart. The king was doing all he knew to do to save the people of Nineveh.

And looks what happens – “God saw their actions – that they had turned from their evil ways – so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10). Why can’t we be like the people of Nineveh? What would happen, if as a nation, we all repented and everyone would, “call out earnestly to God” and “turn from their evil ways and from his wrongdoings”. Can you even imagine?

I get a bit of a picture in my head. Everyone is equal and stripped of their “royal robes” and the dress is humble sackcloth. People who were never meant to be elevated and worshiped are sitting side by side in the ashes with the homeless. We all go low and cry out to God with hearts of repentance. Nobody has their own agenda or is spewing hate of those who have different views. School and church shootings would be no more. Discrimination ends. The murder of innocent babies comes to a halt and all lives really do matter. They matter because we are all asking for disaster not to come to the US. We are all praying to the only One that can save us from eternal damnation. Can you picture it too? What would it take to make this happen?

I pray we each hear the word of the Lord like Jonah did and respond by getting up and going! God may have come to you a hundred times before, but we’ve been to busy with our agenda and defending whatever cause shares our tightly held ideas. Let Him give you the words and take you where He will. Maybe it’s across the US to people you don’t know. Maybe its as close as someone in your own family, who doesn’t know Him. We are still here and there are many who need to hear about the God that relents.



I wrote about Jonah, fear and escape last time and I would love to jump back into this story. If you are familiar with the city God had asked Jonah to go to, you can see why he was running away. The city was Nineveh and the people were evil. In fact, they were known for their horrible acts from what I have read. I’ll spare you the details, but it wouldn’t be a place on your top 10 travel destinations in those days. Nevertheless, God cared about the 120,000 people who lived there and He told Jonah to go to them.

Because of Jonah trying to flee, God had created a great storm in the sea he was sailing on. His travel companions decided this was his fault and Jonah tells them to do something crazy. “Pick me up and throw me into the sea so that this great storm will calm down for you, for I know that I’m to blame for this great storm that is against you.” (Jonah 1:12). The men rowed hard, but couldn’t save themselves and they made a choice. “So, they called out to the Lord: ‘Please, Lord, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood! For you, Lord, have done just as you pleased.’ Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped raging. The men were seized by great fear of the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” (Jonah 1:14-16). Interesting isn’t it how God can turn what seems horrible into something good. These men were eye witnesses to the power of God and that obedience is pretty serious.

God didn’t leave Jonah to perish in the sea and He doesn’t leave us either. He sent an unconventional rescuer. “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17). And in those belly moments Jonah prayed. “I called out to the Lord in my distress, and he answered me. I cried out for help from deep inside Sheol; you heard my voice.” (Jonah 2:2). Have you been there before? Jonah was in a place of darkness and with no help in sight. I love the choice he made somewhere in that 3 day stay. “As my life was fading away, I remembered the Lord and my prayer came to you, to your holy temple. Those who cherish worthless idols abandon their faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation belongs to the Lord.” (Jonah 2:7-9). Nothing like ending up in a pit, where all options have run out, to point you to the Lord.

Jonah also mentions worthless idols. Somethings never change because we still struggle with these today. In my experience, the pursuit of these worthless idols have landed me in a pit. If I stop and think about those times, I’ve got to ask myself what was I hoping to gain? My answers would be acceptance, to finally feel like I was enough and maybe if I’m really being honest, elevate myself just a bit. Recently, I was reminded of the ever tempting “platform”. Now, that would have gotten me some years back, but not anymore. I no longer need a platform to elevate me or give me a false sense of being exalted by others. It won’t last and what would be the price to pay to keep myself on that exalted platform? Oh, I’ve got some examples here, but they would read like judgement. So, I’ll just stick to the scripture that says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11). The place to stay is low and let the Lord move you when He decides.

And as for Jonah, who was low in the belly of the fish, the Lord had not forgotten him. “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10). There aren’t words or actions between the end of Jonah’s prayer and the Lord commanding the fish. I wonder if when Jonah started praying, the fish started swimming towards the shore? Guess that will be one of my questions I’ll ask in eternity. In the meantime, we learn from Jonah the need to pray. If we find ourselves in a pit, pray. If we find ourselves in a dark place, pray. If we find ourselves cherishing worthless idols, pray. If we find ourselves abandoning the faithful love of God, pray. In times of thanksgiving, pray. Jonah also told the Lord he would fulfill the vow he had made. He turned from running in fear and disobedience to crying out for help and surrender. He was shown mercy and patience by our all powerful God.

I love the encouraging words written by Paul, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I am the worst of them. But I have received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16). God was patient and merciful with Jonah and Paul and many others in the Bible. You and I are no different. God longs to rescue us….




Today is of course Mother’s Day and it has been a good day. There weren’t too many meltdowns before we headed out the door to church and that is a gift by itself! Worship took my focus off of myself and refocused my attention on the King of my heart. Our pastor spoke encouraging words and ones that I need to spend sometime studying and see how the Lord wants them applied. Church was followed by a great brunch and sweet gifts. Yes, a good day indeed.

Then a quick time of rest and this is where the sadness hit. When the day is focused entirely on the one person that now resides in Heaven, my heart hurts. Not just over the physical absence, but all that having your mom entails. Time has helped heal places and if walking through grief is something that can be used to help others, then I am thankful. Use it Lord and may it bring you glory.

I was reminded the other day, by a friends text, of my moms favorite verse. It was “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.” (2 Timothy 1:7). It’s a great verse, isn’t it? The thing is, my mom was very fearful, but all that seemed to fall away as she dealt with cancer. I know medicine helped, but she wasn’t afraid. She no longer had a spirit of fear. That had to be such a freeing feeling, when something you fought against your entire life, is no longer an issue! I think she picked a great verse. Don’t we all want to be done away with fear and have instead power, love and sound judgement? Is this even possible?

The last time I wrote, I mentioned the city of Nineveh. If you look at the book of Jonah in the Old Testament, you will see a man who started out with fear. “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because their evil has come before me.’  Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence.” (Jonah 1:1-3).  Oh Jonah, there isn’t anywhere you can go and not be in the Lord’s presence here on earth. Take a ship or plane, He’s still there.

I also wonder what the cost of the fare was that Jonah paid to catch his ride of escape? What price do we pay trying to escape? Whatever the cost, it is never enough. Jonah would soon find out that he could not escape. “But the Lord threw a great wind onto the sea, and such a great storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart.” Guess what Jonah was doing? “Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down to the lowest part of the vessel and had stretched out and fallen into a deep sleep. The captain approached him and said, ‘What are you doing sound asleep? Get up! Call to your god. Maybe this god will consider us, and we won’t perish.” (Jonah 1:5-6). I wonder if the call to “Get up” rang familiar to Jonah? Isn’t that exactly what the Lord had commanded earlier?

I’ve had plenty of times in my life where I know clearly what I am to do, but fled in the opposite direction. I paid the fare of escape and for a moment felt peace. However, a storm was raging and my vessel was threatening to break apart. That is such the way with sin. God says one thing in His word and we do the exact opposite. In Jonah’s case, he had good reason to run because what God was asking him to do was terrifying. Fear had to have been a great motivation to send him running and we will look more closely at that next time.

I see a bit of Jonah in me and maybe you do too. Fear has a way of becoming apart of us and spilling over into every aspect of our life. However, my mom knew it didn’t have to. God did not place a spirit of fear in us. No, instead he placed in us that know Him as our Lord, a spirit that is full of His power, love and sound judgement. It is out of what He has placed in us that we pour out to those inside our homes and everyone we come in contact with. So today, lets get up and let go of our fear. It leads to a shipwreck in our lives and anyone else we have in our boat. The price is too high and so much more is in store.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Royal Spokesman

Yesterday morning I was reading in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. It has become one of my favorites. In the beginning of chapter 36 bad news arrives. “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then King of Assyria sent his royal spokesman, along with a massive army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem…The royal spokesman said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: The great king, the king of Assyria, says this: What are you relying on?” (verses 1-4). We could stop right here and have a great conversation. Have you ever been questioned like this by someone more “powerful” than you? I know this feeling, especially in my younger days. I hear this also being said like, “where does your hope come from”? We will get to that, but lets keep reading.

The royal spokesman continues with another question. “You think mere words are strategy and strength for war. Who are you now relying on that you have rebelled against me?” (36:5). Is it just me or do you hear “who do you think you are”? He urges them to make a deal, to compromise in fear. “Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you to rely on the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will certainly rescue us! This city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” (36:15). Doubts must have been a flying by now. However, the people didn’t say a word, because their king had said not to respond.

Word gets back to King Hezekiah and “he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple.” (37:1). This was the place to go to be close to the glory of the Lord during this time. He also sent word to the prophet Isaiah saying, “Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all the words of the royal spokesman, whom his master sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke him for the words that the Lord your God has heard.” (37:1-4). One thing I notice here is how Hezekiah refers to God. He calls him Isaiah’s God, but not his. Maybe he doesn’t quite yet trust that God would speak directly to him.

Maybe we too have counted on other people to pray for us or discern some big decision for us, because we just didn’t trust God to speak to us. Why is that? For me it came down to insecurity, fear, doubt and I didn’t spend much time actually listening. The easier thing for me to do was ask others who did put in the time listening, praying and reading their Bibles. With this set up, I could spend my time doing what I wanted to do and receive the benefits of direction. But you know what? I was the one who missed out and my reliance on others became unbalanced. Once I got a taste of hearing Him speak to me through His word and just deep inside (also known as the Holy Spirit living in you), I’ve never been the same. Don’t get me wrong, I still seek others insight who know the Lord and it often confirms what I have heard.

In King Hezekiah’s case, Isaiah sent him back God’s response. “The Lord says this: Don’t be afraid because of the words you heard, with which the king of Assyria’s attendants have blasphemed me. I am about to put a spirit in him and he will hear a rumor and return to his own land, where I will cause him to fall by the sword” (37:6-7). This had to give Hezekiah hope!

The royal spokesman sends Hezekiah another message. “Don’t let your God, on whom you rely, deceive you by promising that Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria. Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries: they completely destroyed them. Will you be rescued? Did the gods of the nations that my predecessors destroyed rescue them…” (37:10-12)? I like the wording hear “your God, on whom you rely”. I wonder if, even in this realistic threat, if Hezekiah felt strengthened? My guess is yes, because of what happens next.

“Hezekiah took the letter from the messangers’ hands, read it, then went to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: Lord of Armies, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God – you alone – of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. Listen closely, Lord, and hear, open your eyes, Lord, and see. Hear all the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made from wood and stone by human hands. So they destroyed them. Now, Lord our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God – you alone” (37:14-20).

Do you see how he has changed in his reference to God? He pulls Him near and places his trust in Him alone. Hezekiah isn’t seeking his own glory here either. He wants the world to know who the one true God is. Have you been in a situation of such humility that you have done the same?

King Hezekiah receives another message from Isaiah. “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Because you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria, this is the Lord has spoken against him…” (37:21-22). Read 37:22-32 for yourself. It is so good! I’ll pick up with verse 33-35. “He will not enter this city, shoot an arrow here, come before it with a shield, or build up a siege ramp against it. He will go back the way he came, and he will not enter this city. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will defend this city and rescue it for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.” Do not miss the importance of Hezekiah going to the Lord himself with what appears to be an assurance of the power of God. He takes the letter from one set of hands into his own and then spreads them out before the Lord. I love how he figuratively took this situation out of his own hands and placed it into the Lords.

Want to know how the story ends? “Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred eighty five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies! So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned home and lived in Nineveh” (37:36-37).  (Maybe next time we will fast forward to the book of Jonah and see what happens to the city of Nineveh.) See how God kept His word. He always keeps His word. “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” Proverbs 30:5. I do not read of any harm coming to the silent people of Jerusalem. They obey their earthly king and he prayed for their deliverance. He also sought the help of Isaiah to pray to the Lord, their shield, as well.

What I took away from these words was beautiful. God always hears and sees. He sees us at all times and hears not only our words, but the words spoken to us. This encourages and saddens me. If you only knew some of the unkind words that have flown quickly out of my mouth. However, I John 1:9 tell us that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Clearly we are told if we confess, talk to God and tell Him what we have done, He will forgive and cleanse us. I don’t see a list of sins that He will forgive and ones He won’t. So that one sin you might be thinking of that He could not possibly forgive, yeah that one, do you not think He isn’t ready to forgive and cleanse you? Oh friend, He is more than ready.

Take your sins, concerns, papers if you have them and place them in the Lord’s hands. Pray, read His word and listen. After you’ve done this, if you feel lead, talk to someone. Hope is waiting and fear can be dealt with!!