The Bargain (Day 2 from Cleansing Thoughts)

 



   There are two occasions in the Bible the Lord brought to my remembrance concerning acts of desperation and fear that led to salvations. The first is the story of Jonah. Do you remember why Jonah fled in the first place? That’s right, he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he did not want to do what the Lord had asked him to do. How many times have we, in our own way, done this very thing and in doing so found ourselves, just as Jonah, in the sea of circumstances? Jonah boarded a ship for Tarshish, in the mist of the sea, a great storm arose, and the ship was about to be destroyed. When he was confronted by those onboard, Jonah admitted to his sin and told them to just cast him overboard so that they would not perish because of him. God had prepared a great fish to swallow him, where he remained in its belly for three days and three nights. In chapter two verse two, we see Jonah had accomplished what he wanted to do. The Word tells us he was in the belly of Sheol—interpreted, “the grace”—away from the presence of God, and as Jonah, when we arrive at the place of our inner struggle, we too will cry out to God in submission. He is a holy God, and we are called to be a holy people; therefore, He cannot allow sin to remain within us,but to many times, we do not recognize sin as sin, so we bring destructive circumstances into our lives. But that does not mean God turns His back on us for just as He prepared the great fish for Jonah, He will prepare a way for us, and we will say as Jonah did, “ I cried out to the Lord because of my affiliation, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:2, NKJV). With our repentance comes His forgiveness. But, my friend , it doesn’t end there for the Word goes on to tell us Jonah was restored to his place of service! When the Lord asked Jonah the second time, he went to the city of Nineveh, and , and ALL its inhabitants were saved.

   You might be asking as I did, what does this story have to do with me? I’m not called to bring a city to salvation. But I feel in my heart I must ask you, “Are you running from God?” I know I was. I had ran from Him my entire life!  Every time I felt Him drawing drawing me to close, I ran faster until I just couldn’t run anymore. I was like Jonah and had to reach my place of Sheol before I would cry out to the Lord. There was no commitment that day at the alter when I asked Jesus into my heart. To be honest with you, I was simply tired of running, because of my past I had trust issues and didn’t let many people in. God also knew I did not care for my own life, if I lived or died, but that my family meant everything to me. I believe to this day He had my husband in the palm of His hand all along, and He knew what it would take to get my attention. Until now, I was like the seed that Jesus said was down by the wayside in Mark chapter four. I had heard the Word , but because I did not guard my heart, Satan came and took it away; but what Satan meant for harm, God used for good, and now I accept my role as the solitary one, or beloved one, in my family. My mission field is not a city but my home, and He had assured me in His Word that salvation will come to my household. 

   The second act that was birthed out of desperation and fear that the Lord led me to read was in the book of Matthew concerning the story of Peter’s walk of faith. If you recall, it took place, once  again, upon a stormy sea. After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus had sent the disciples  ahead while He went to pray. For hours the disciples fought the galling winds and high waves of the Sea of Galilee until the fourth watch of the night, then they saw a figure approaching , walking on the water. As they cried out in fear, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27, NKJV). Child of God, do you see what is taking place? Do you not think their circumstances went beyond the infinite knowledge of the God of the universe? Of course not, just as your circumstances do not go without His knowledge. The next part of the story is often seen as failure on Peter’s part, but look beyond his failure to see his faith. He was the ONLY one willing to leave the boat and take a step of faith to walk on the water! That is all God is asking of you and me, to have enough faith to step out of the boat. The Word says, “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid” (Matthew 14:30 NKJV). It wasn’t until he took his eyes off the Lord and allowed the fear of his circumstances to enter his heart that he began to sink, but even then, his faith had not failed him for he knew in the midst of all he could see, hear and feel his mind told him you’re going to drowned but his heart knew that when he  to CALL on the name of the Lord, and he would be SAVED. The Word tells us, “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him” (Matthew 14:31, NKJV). Even in the deepest sea of despair, God is there waiting to answer your cry, but like so many others, we see this as a sign of weakness or failure because Jesus said to him, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). This was not a harsh correction given to Peter but a gentle rebuke, for the Greek word implies that Peter faith was no more than underdeveloped.  But I ask you, if Peter showed little faith by stepping out of the boat, walked on the water, and calling upon the name of the Lord in a time of fear and desperation, what does that say for the ones who never stepped out in faith in the first place? We may never have the opportunity to lead three thousand people to the Lord as Peter did on the day of Pentecost, but we can learn from the many circumstances in his life that he had to overcome to become a man of great faith.

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