“But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?””
Jonah 4:10-11 NKJV
I catch myself frustrated with my students sometimes. Is it normal human behavior to loose your temper once in awhile? Of course… But that is the flesh side.
When I first started teaching, I had a teacher assistant that spoke English and Khmer. She honestly was the greatest! Then she left and I got a new one… Still she was really good… I had her for about 2 weeks… Then she left. Now I am teaching on my own… And the Lord is working on an area in my life that I never expected. These teachers helped translate what I was saying to the kids, that way they could understand better what I was teaching them. Now they don’t even listen at times. The other day I couldn’t take it, and I almost left the room crying… My eyes definitely teared up for sure. I was blinded by anger on this day. I was trying to teach, but it felt like herding cats. They wouldn’t stop talking and I tried everything I was taught. Yet I couldn’t control my frustration. Nothing I did could make them stop talking, it was insane.
I was giving a practice test… Having them write the word when they hear it. One of the words that I chose was smile… as soon as I said “next word is Smile.” The Lord hit me… How can you teach these kids smile when you are not evening smiling? How can you show Me when all they can see is the anger coming from you? Smile Nicole, all they want or need is someone to care about them. Someone to say good job.
Some days I feel like Jonah “Lord why me? Why am I here? Me teaching them Elevator is not going to tell them about Jesus.” It’s not about the words that get them saved or even if I do see them get saved. It’s simply saying hey…. My actions and the way I love God is going to be watched. They are going to see that there was something different about this foreigner teacher. She was always smiling… Everything I do I want to be doing it for the Lord and not for my own intentions. Their time in school might be the only time in their lives that they can see Jesus. The rest of the time they might only see rudeness and hatred all too often. Maybe when they are older they might look back and say, “I want what that teacher had, she was always smiling and she was always kind.” But I have Jesus and I love these kids with my whole heart. In the end these kids are the little light in my life. They always turn my day around with their smiles and their little jokes. I wouldn’t ask for another class.
A: I will give each of my students a hug and I will pray when I start to feel stress and anger sneaking into my actions.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
This is such a powerful chapter… I get all kinds of emotions when reading it. Jesus went through all this torment for His people. And John 3:16 echoes in my mind when I read this section. “For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Chapter 19 shows that come true… It shows the torment that Jesus, God’s only Son, had to go through on behalf of us. To save us… Why? Why would anyone die for a sinner like me? Why would anyone give their only son over to die? I grew up knowing this story, I grew up reading this every Easter… The thing is now, I can find out things on my own. I don’t have to listen to what people say. I can read the Bible and learn the truth on my own. Have the Lord tell me His reason. I don’t have to take the first answer that I hear.
People grow up believing the things that they hear. Their parents told them so it must be true. Wait… That is me…. I grew up with these stories. Now I am 20 and I can actually find the answers out myself. It’s not that when I was 19 or 18 I didn’t believe… Or that as soon has I turned 20 it makes me an adult now. What I am saying is that I need to learn the reasons behind the most common question about my faith. It’s been a long journey of taking my faith into my own hands. Not just listening to what my parents told, what my pastors have said, or the people around me tell me. It’s sitting and listening to the Lord, waiting for His still small voice. And knowing that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
There is a season in your life when you are going to have to discover the answers to your own question. Stop listening to everyone around you and go read the Bible on your own.
I feel like this ended up having nothing to do with the verse but it’s where I went with it. Only the Lord knows.
A: I am going to read the book of John.
“The LORD on high is mightier Than the noise of many waters, Than the mighty waves of the sea.”
Lately, I have been struggling with fear. It’s not a bad fear… Yet, how can fear be good. It’s a fear that seems to be taking over me very softly. It comes so fast, that at times I seem to not be able to stop it. This is what pulls me away from the Lord. It doesn’t last long, and when it comes I normally stop and ask myself. “What do you have to be afraid of? Is not the Lord right there next to you?” I have been learning to stop and pray. Pray for everything and everyone to not stop praying. Lately I have been falling asleep while praying, but it is the only way that I will be able to sleep at night. It normally comes in the darkness of the night, when all is quiet and minutes feel like hours. It’s fear, but it’s lies that creep in to cause the fear. It’s lies that the enemy puts in my mind. It took me awhile to trust in God and to listen for His truths. I never realized of alive spiritual warfare is until coming here. I never really thought it was possible. Yet, now I am beginning to see that everyday I wake up…. The enemy wants to put me down. How do I stop from hearing the loudness of the waves? How do I stop hearing the lies that the Thought Caster puts into my head?
I fix me eyes on the Lord, even when it seems like the world around me is dragging me down. I need to remember to praise Him for everything He has given and done for me. He reminds me daily that our battle is not against flesh and blood. That we are fighting the powers of darkness. I am learning more about the Lord’s love for me. The Lord’s peace and His plan. There is nothing to be afraid of because our King and our Father is right next to us. The enemy has no power over God’s people. Fear has no place in my life, only love and trust in the Lord. “The Lord on high is mightier then the noise of many waters,” our God is mightier, He is powerful, and He is loving. When the waves seem to be too much for me to handle, it means that I need to be reminded. Reminded that the waves will always be too much for me to handle. With the Lord’s help and with His strength, nothing is too much.
It all seems repetitive to me, like I have been learning the same lesson for 6 months now. I remember in school that when a teacher repeats themselves than it is important. You should probably be paying attention to what they are saying. The Lord is my teacher, and even though He is repeating Himself, He wants me to understand. To understand His sovereignty, and His promises. To understand that He will never leave me nor forsake me. To understand that He died for me and that He loves me.
Remind me daily, moment by moment, second by second, that I need to praise You more. That I need to stop and thank You for the little blessings. Jesus You are watching over me, You are right beside me, and You love me. Thank You.
A: I will praise the Lord moment by moment. When I start to pray, it will start off by praising God for who He is.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
“Many enter through it.” If following Jesus and living your life for Him was easy then everyone would be doing it. “Enter through the narrow gate.” Take the path less travelled… Even if it seems like the rest of the world is telling you not to go that way… Yet you know in your heart that this path is what the Lord is telling me to take. Then take it…. Don’t second guess that small voice in your head. Pay attention to the little signs that the Lord is showing you. It is going to be hard, it is going to be scary at times, you are going to want to turn around and take the easy way. Please don’t…. Stay strong and press on. All those people who are on the broad road that leads to the wide gate, they aren’t listening to the Lord. He has His arms outstretched for them. He is ready to take them in as soon as the acknowledge that He is Lord, but they have set their course to destruction. There are so many that are just following the crowd… They don’t understand where they are going but they know that since their friends are doing it they must too. Yet they are wrong…. They are being deceived… They don’t understand what the Lord has done for them. “Enter through the narrow get,” your path is going to be difficult, there will be fallen trees, there will big giants pits in the way, and there might be snakes or other wild animals. They are put in your path for distraction, that you might give up on what the Lord has called you too do. Don’t let them intimidate you, for your God is stronger, and greater. But in verse 14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Your small, thorn covered path leads to life. He tells you right away that it is going to be difficult, but it’s at the end of your path that you enter into life. It might not seem like it. You might want to cry, but do it. The Lord knows your fears, He knows your troubles, and He knows your thoughts. When you finally throw your hands up in surrender, that is when the Lord steps in and give you the strength. When you finally realize that you can’t do it anymore the Lord wraps you in a tight hug and says, “I know you can’t, but with My help you can. Trust in Me and I will make your paths straight.” Take Him by the hand and hold on tight, because you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. You are a child of God, the God who saved the Israel for Egypt, that fed the 5,000, the one that swallowed a man alive in a fish, the God that flooded the whole earth, and the God that calmed to the storm. He is the same powerful God back in the Bible as He is today.
He has been telling me lately too stop trying to be like everyone else. Stop following everyone around like a lost dog. Be brave, my path is different then the girls I am living with. God is going to show me something different then what He is going to show them. I need to stop trying to see and learn the same things as everyone. I need to take a deep breathe and look up at the Lord. For He is at my right hand and I shall not be shaken. My God loves me, because He is my Creator and Savior. I need to listen to only His voice, and His words. Not the voices telling me to take the easy way, because I want life! I want to go to Heaven and just praise His name forever. I want to sing praises to Him all the time forever and ever. It’s nice reminder that this is not my home… Beverly MA is not my home….. Antigua GUA is not my home…. and Phnom Penh Cambodia is not my home. My home is heaven and right now I am just passing through. Following the path that the Lord has given me and trusting Him. He knows what He is doing.
And He shall stand and feed His flock, In the strength of the Lord. In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God, and they shall abide for now He shall be great. To the ends of the earth.
This past couple of days I have been mediating on the fact that the Lord is my Shepherd. Not only is He my Shepherd yet He is the Good Shepherd. Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” “And He shall stand and feed His flock, in the strength of the Lord.” Feeding His flock… Standing with His people feeding them His word. This whole trip so far the Lord has been telling me to trust in Him and to put my faith in Him. For some reason I was stuck thinking that some how I had to figure everything out on my own. I wasnt putting my faith into God. Trying to do everything on my own gets trying and sometimes I give up. The bad days, bad thoughts, or bad attitudes come and they seems to soak into my pores. Then all I want to do is sit and give up… stay in my bad mood. Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and done all, to stand.” The armor of God, one of my new favorite passages in the Bible. You have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and finally the God’s word as the sword. The thing that the Lord showed me this week is that yes you may be able to use the God’s word as the sword. But most importantly I need to be living in His word. The Lord feeds His flock with His word. Deuteronomy 8:3 “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man LIVES by EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” If I am not filling myself or soaking in the word of the Lord. Soon that sword will become heavy in my hand, and the armor will start to become too big. It won’t fit right anymore, because my spiritual walk with the Lord is lacking. I can’t do it on my own strength… Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word.” Then with the armor too big there is easy access to me for the devil. That is why I need to be daily soaking in the bread that the Lord is giving me. That I can be ready with my shield of faith and breastplate of righteousness. Any attack that the enemy throws my way I know that the Lord is with me and I can stand in peace, because He will never leave me. He is my King and I am His daughter. You best believe that a daughter of a king has training and knows how to swing the sword. But I also have my Protector, my Shepherd, my Creator, and my Strength that watches over to me that I may find my rest in Him. Knowing that His eyes and Angels are watching over me.
A: I am really going to soak in every word that the Lord shows me. I am not just going to do morning devotions but also nightly ones too.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—”
This was an accident…. This verse wasn’t suppose to be done, yet here is what the Lord is showing me through it. It’s not a different gospel… It’s more of something else is taking my attention. It’s crazy…. Here I am in a foreign country. Surrounded by people I have only known for about 5 months. The country I am in, I never thought of or heard of growing up. Yet I feel at home. I feel blessed to be here. I am amazed at the power the Lord has. To take me from my comfort to put me in an uncomfortable place…. Now I am comfortable again. I am learning this week or the Lord is showing me that I need to focus on Him. My eyes need to be forever on Him. I find myself looking at things that are fading or that really doesn’t need my attention… Yet I give it anyway. I find that I start to turn too what is comfortable to me. Psalm 119:37 “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.”
I am focusing too much on my needs and wants… I start to get distracted by my fears… By trying to figure out everything before it actually happens. The Lord is telling me that I need to look to Him. Lately, I have noticed that my devotional life with the Lord has been slaking that I am easily torn away from my time with Him. My prayer life has been becoming short. Never do I take myself away and just spend one on one time with my Heavenly Father. I feel like I am getting caught up in the things of what I need to do and that I am forgetting the reason that I am here. I am forgetting about the relationship that I need to be growing with my Father, my Creator. It’s not that I am turning to a different religion it’s more of the fact that other things are taking my attention. Yet it is so easy for them to get in front of my view and my eyes are off the Lord.
We did a skit today about Peter walking on water. Peter’s faith in Jesus was so strong but then as soon as his eyes left Jesus and saw the waves Peter began to sink. Peter was swallowed up by fear and by the things of this world. Yet my favorite part is that immediately Jesus reached out and pulled Peter out of the water. The Lord is always there for us, all we need to do is call on Him. Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Call to Him… Peter cried out when he began to sink and the Lord answered. Almost immediately Jesus reached out and grabbed his hand saving Peter from the sea. The sea of the world… The sea of worries, lies, and distractions. The Lord has helped me in so many ways all I need to do is ask… To call out to Him and He will answer. That is how much He loves me.
So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.
My first reaction to this verse was confusion. How was the Lord going to talk through this verse. It wasn’t until I read it for the second time that the Lord hit me. It says “Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd.” It’s all too often that I catch myself doing things just so that I can please the people around me. Not like the girls I am living with, this is coming from the past. That might have even followed me to Cambodia. Making it hard for me to do the will of the Lord when I am too busy worrying about what people might think of me. I like to put myself in the shoes of Pilate, and I wonder if I would do the same thing that he did. Pilate was amazed with Jesus. I mean Pilate couldn’t find anything wrong with Jesus. Jesus was innocent in his eyes… Yet he released a man that was a murder. All because he wanted to please the crowd… I can’t help but think…. Pilate killed the Son of God, because he wanted to please man. How many times a day do I kill the Son of God, because I am scared of what people might think of me? 1 Thessalonians 2:4 “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” I can’t believe how well that verse fits into what I was talking about. It’s so true, God has entrusted us with the gospel… And not to mention the fact that we have been approved by God also. God picked us to spread the gospel and tell everyone we meet. We aren’t doing out of our own evil ambitions, or our own sick minds. My God knows my thoughts and He knows my heart. I can’t hide anything from Him. He knows when I am doing something for Him or for my own selfishness. This is my next question, then why is it my issue is trying to make the people around me happy? Why if I know that the Lord knows my thoughts and heart, do I focus more on pleasing everyone else? John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” The world hates me… The world is covered in darkness and it hates light…. Not just any light, but the light that came into the world to save it from the darkness. The light that is inside me. The light that I need to stay focused on… People should see me as crazy, they should see that there is something different. My heart should be focused on the Lord that nothing could change it except Him, I am His pot and He is my potter. 2 Corinthians 5:13 “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; Or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.” I don’t want to be like Pilate and kill the Son of God, just so the people will like me. I need to do what the Lord wants me to do. How crazy it might sound… At least it is for the Lord and not from my own self.