VIDEO God of Second Chances, A Whale of a Story

God of Second Chances

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” Jonah 3:1-2

It was not uncommon in the Old Testament for “the word of the Lord” to come to God’s prophets again and again. It happened to Samuel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and others. And it also happened to Jonah: The word of the Lord came to Jonah the first time (Jonah 1:1) and then the second time (Jonah 3:1). With the other prophets, the “second time” meant additional prophetic utterances they were to deliver. But with Jonah, the “second time” was because Jonah had failed to speak God’s word the first time. Jonah was a disobedient prophet.

God commissioned Jonah to go east to Assyria, to the capital of Nineveh and deliver a message of judgment. But Jonah fled west toward Spain because he feared the Assyrians. You know the story—Jonah ended up in the sea where he was swallowed by a great fish. Jonah repented and called on the Lord and was delivered. God gave him a second chance.

Don’t let your past keep you from trusting God for a second (or third, or fourth) chance. The God of grace loves to forgive.

Forgiveness is to be set loose from sins. G. Campbell Morgan


Chuck Missler Jonah

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Love God. Love Others.

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

I don’t know about you, but I used to wonder every time I read news about representatives of the different faiths affirming their commitment to Singapore’s religious harmony.

I’d ask myself: How could these people who believed in different gods find any common ground? As a Christian, would I stand on that stage? And would I be compromising my faith to God if I did so?

This was what happened last week, when more than 250 organisations from the various religions here pledged their commitment to religious harmony. What, I wondered again, should a Christian think of this?

I suppose there will always be divided thoughts on this, and I would hesitate to suggest that there are any “correct” or “wrong” answers.

A mature Christian who is a leader in his church, however, offered this perspective.

As a Christian, we are called to love and to help people, no matter whom they believe in. Jesus underlined this principle in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), which showed that the true “neighbour” was the one who showed mercy to the needy robbery victim—not necessarily a fellow believer. It is also significant that Jesus’ second great commandment is “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39)—and not, for instance, “Love your churchmate”.

Loving others, I believe, includes respecting who they are and their right to worship, even when our beliefs differ. As Bishop Terry Kee, the President of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, noted after last week’s event, “We always affirm that it is our right to embrace our faith, to practise and also to propagate (it). However, we have no right to denigrate or ridicule other faiths.”

Jesus himself showed this principle in his interaction with non-believers. He always sought to show love first, rather than draw lines between people because of beliefs

Veteran Sri Lankan pastor Ajith Fernando, who has operated in a multi-religious society for many years, notes that Christians have been given the freedom to worship in many countries, and this is something we should be thankful for. “Would it not be right for us to do to others this thing that we wish for them to do to us?” he asks, citing Matthew 7:12 in his book, Sharing the Truth in Love. “Our belief in the truth of the gospel does not mean that we should deny people of other faiths the freedom to worship and share their faith,” he stresses. “In fact, Christians should defend the rights of those of other faiths.”

As the Christian leader I spoke to also pointed out, if we are ever-ready to show Christ’s love in practical ways to whomever we meet, we will be faithful witnesses to the God we worship. Perhaps our Christlike behaviour will make them curious enough to ask us about our faith one day. That will be our opportunity to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… with gentleness and respect”
(1 Peter 3:15). —Leslie Koh

 

Lord, help me to show Your unconditional, grace-filled love
to Your people, whom You have created.
Let my actions and words reflect Your love for them.

 

Loving our neighbour means… loving everyone

God’s Deliverance

Philippians 1:12-26

Difficulties and suffering can make us want to give up and throw ourselves a pity party. If we can’t find a way out of our trial and there’s no relief in sight, we may conclude that God really doesn’t deliver His people as He promised. At such times, the problem is not with the Lord but with our understanding of His deliverance.

Paul wrote his epistle to the Philippians while he was chained and guarded in a Roman jail. But he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. Throughout this letter, he was able to look beyond his circumstances and rejoice in Christ. Although he wasn’t being delivered out of prison, countless people were being saved. All the guards heard the gospel, and Paul’s example gave fellow believers the courage to proclaim Christ without fear.

God’s deliverance doesn’t always match our expectations:

• Sometimes He removes us from a difficult situation so we don’t have to face it anymore. This is the solution we all want, but it is not His only method. 
• At other times, He may choose to strengthen us through our hardship. Our circumstance doesn’t change, but He sustains us in it, enabling us to trust Him each step of the way. 
• Finally, God may give us eternal deliverance through death. Paul said that departing and being with Christ would be “very much better” (Phil. 1:23), yet this is often the option we dread most.

When your affliction is lasting longer than you want, ask, What fruit is God producing in my life? and How is He working in other people’s lives through this situation? You can trust the Lord, no matter how He chooses to deliver you.

How Christ Actually Learned Obedience

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

This verse is a very difficult verse. The Lord Jesus Christ was the very Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the omniscient God, perfect wisdom and complete truth. How could it be that one who knows all things would have to learn anything? Even more particularly, how would He have to learn obedience? He was always obedient to His heavenly Father. “I do always those things that please him,” Christ said (John 8:29). He surely did not have to be chastised like a disobedient child in order to learn obedience, as the verse seems on the surface to be telling us.

He was indeed a Son, and He was never disobedient, but He had to become obedient through actual experience. He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). The “things which he suffered,” as the innocent Lamb of God, are beyond all human understanding, and His willingness to obey His Father even in this (“nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”—Luke 22:42) demonstrates the ultimate obedience.

There are many things that one can learn in theory but that are only really learned in practice. The Lord Jesus Christ knew all things by omniscience; nevertheless, He had to learn obedience by actual experience. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, . . . to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).

Once having passed this test, He had been “made perfect” as the succeeding verse assures us, and thus has become “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). No act of obedience that He urges upon us can ever be as difficult as the things that He was willing to suffer to provide forgiveness and salvation for us. HMM

Wonderful and Awesome Fear

And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

—Exodus 34:8

I have said it before and I will say it again: This low concept of God is our spiritual problem today. Mankind has succeeded quite well in reducing God to a pitiful nothing!

The God of the modern context is no God at all. He is simply a glorified chairman of the board, a kind of big businessman dealing in souls. The God portrayed in much of our church life today commands very little respect.

We must get back to the Bible and to the ministration of God’s Spirit to regain a high and holy concept of God. Oh, this awesome, terrible God, the dread of Isaac! This God who made Isaiah cry out, “I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). This God who drove Daniel to his knees in honor and respect.

To know the Creator and the God of all the universe is to revere Him. It is to bow down before Him in wonder and awesome fear.   MMG079-080

Lord, I’m struck this morning with a sense of awe in Your presence. I bow before You in “wonder and awesome fear.” Amen.

 

….that thou mayest live

That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live.—Deuteronomy 16:20.

This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.—Deuteronomy 26:16.

 

Never pass by or palter with the clear voice of conscience, with the plain command of duty; never let it be doubtful to your own soul whether you belong to the right side or wrong, whether you are a true soldier or a false traitor. Never deliberate about what is clearly wrong, and try to persuade yourself that it is not.

Frederick Temple.

 

The first resolve of one who gives himself wholly to God must be never to give way deliberately to any fault whatever; never to act in defiance of conscience, never to refuse anything God requires, never to say of anything, It is too small for God to heed. Such a resolution as this is an essential foundation in the spiritual life. I do not mean but that in spite of it we shall fall into inadvertencies, infirmities, errors; but we shall rise up and go on anew from such faults—because they are involuntary, the will has not consented to them.

Jean Nicolas Grou.

 

Woman’s War

“The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Judges 4:9

Rather an unusual text, but there may be souls in the world that may have faith enough to grasp it. Barak, the man, though called to the war, had little stomach for the fight unless Deborah would go with him, and so the Lord determined to make it a woman’s war. By this means He rebuked the slackness of the man, and gained for Himself the more renown, and cast the more shame upon the enemies of His people.

The Lord can still use feeble instrumentalities. Why not me? He may use persons who are not commonly called to great public engagements. Why not you? The woman who slew the enemy of Israel was no Amazon, but a wife who tarried in her tent. She was no orator, but a woman who milked the cows and made butter. May not the Lord use any one of us to accomplish His purpose? Somebody may come to the house today, even as Sisera came to Jael’s tent. Be it ours, not to slay him, but to save him. Let us receive him with great kindness, and then bring forth the blessed truth of salvation by the Lord Jesus, our great Substitute, and press home the command, “Believe and live.” Who knoweth but some stouthearted sinner may be slain by the gospel today?