April 10, 2012

Today you should read: Jonah 4

Verses 1-4
What in the world?!  What is Jonah’s problem?  God did something awesome through Jonah, and now Jonah is angry.  That’s just odd.  The last verse of chapter 3 gives the cause of Jonah’s irritation:

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”—Jonah 3:10 (NASB)

Jonah told God that he knew He would have mercy on Nineveh, and this is why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place.  Jonah didn’t like the idea of these Gentiles experiencing God’s grace and mercy.  Also, Jonah didn’t want to be embarrassed and look silly by proclaiming destruction to Nineveh, all the while knowing that God would relent and not destroy them.  Now, Jonah would rather die than live with the fact that God had extended mercy to Nineveh, and with the embarrassment of having proclaimed one thing but God doing the opposite.  God asked him if he really had a right to be angry, but he had no right.

Jonah exhibits two major character flaws: Jonah had no love for people unlike himself, and he had major pride issues. He couldn’t imagine God’s mercy being given to people outside of the Israelites, as if God should only bless people like him.  He had a high view of himself.  Plus, he didn’t want to proclaim destruction to everyone, and then be embarrassed when God didn’t bring destruction.  That would hurt his pride and make him look bad.  This causes me to ask myself some tough questions:

  1. Who are the people in my life that I have trouble loving?
  2. Are there people from a different ethnicity, socio-economic background, or culture than me with whom I don’t desire to share the gospel?
  3. Do I have irritating neighbors, co-workers, classmates that I would rather see experience failure than God’s blessing?
  4. Do I get frustrated when God blesses certain people when I think they don’t deserve it?
  5. Am I ashamed to share the truth with people because of what they might think of me afterwards?


Verses 5-11
After Jonah’s angry episode, he went out of the city and made a shelter for some shade, then sat and watched for what would happen to the city.  I get the sense that he was hoping that God would change His mind and destroy Nineveh.  Then, God made a plant grow up to provide shade for Jonah, which pleased him.  God made the plant wither the next day, though, and sent a scorching east wind, which would be similar to the hot Santa Ana winds in California.  Now Jonah is sitting there in misery again, and God asked him if he had a right to be angry about the plant.  Jonah thought he had a good reason to be mad, and God used this as a lesson to explain His compassion for souls.

God told Jonah that just as he (Jonah) was compassionate towards the plant that shaded him, He (God) was compassionate towards the 120,000+ people in the city of Nineveh.   God was making it known to Jonah that this whole ordeal of a “mission trip” that he has gone through was about rescuing souls; it wasn’t about Jonah at all.  Again, this causes me to ask some questions:

  1. Am I willing to go through any ordeal in order to see lost souls be rescued?
  2. What tough things in life do I complain about that God might be using to draw another to Himself?
  3. Is my ministry more about what people think of me, or about making God’s name known to lost souls?

Posted by: Rich Duffield

April 9, 2012

Today you should read: Jonah 3

We pick up on Jonah in his time of humility. He has been vomited out of the belly of giant fish. So his plan to run from God’s will for his life has failed miserably. So God comes to him a second time and says, “Arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message I tell you.” This scene reminds me of being a kid and my dad telling me to go and do something and, after refusing, receiving discipline. The discipline that my dad administered always got my attention and was never forgettable. Then after discipline being told to do the same thing that I was told to do in the first place. Looking back now, I realize how stupid my thought process was. I had to do everything that I was told but with pain added.

Jonah, still stinging from the discipline from the Lord goes to Nineveh. Now, what happens next is one of the greatest examples of how to respond to being rebuked about sin. First, Jonah administered the word of God. Upon hearing the word the people of Nineveh believed. Often when confronted with the word of God our reaction is not to believe but to question. We say things like, “who are you to judge?” or “that’s my private business so stay out of it.”  A questioning heart is a disobedient heart. On a side note I have never seen anything in scripture that says we have a right to privacy. If you can find it please let me know. A good rule of thumb that I have found to be helpful comes from Edward Welch.

“When our feelings conflict with God’s communication, we must side with God’s interpretation.”

After believing, they repented. Repentance is a two-step process: a change of heart and a change of action. The people of Nineveh demonstrated their repentance of heart through a demonstration of their sorrow by putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. This was a cultural demonstration at the time of being truly sorry and remorseful of one’s actions.

However, repentance does not stop at “I’m sorry.” True repentance ends in a change of action. In verses 5-9, the people of Nineveh changed their evil ways and turned to the way of the Lord. What was in the hearts of the people came out in action. This is the same for us. What we believe is what we will do. So when you respond in action it reveals the motives of your heart.

Challenge:

  • What can you learn from the people of Nineveh?
  • When rebuked or convicted of sin in your life how do you respond?
  • When you read the Word of God do you trust in God’s interpretation or your interpretation?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

April 7, 2012

Today you should read: Jonah 2

Recognize and Repent

Jonah is a great book.  There are so many things we can gather and it is all packed into 4 chapters.  Here, in chapter 2, we see Jonah’s repentance.

In chapter 1 God called Jonah to preach to Nineveh.  Jonah ran from the presence of and the purposes of the Lord.  So God created the circumstances to cause Jonah to repent.  To get back to the plan He had for Him.  Then, in the belly of the fish, Jonah repents and turns back to the Lord.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

It amazes me when I see people, who willingly live in sin, have their lives become increasingly more difficult.  It seems obvious to the people around them that God is trying to get their attention and is orchestrating purposes to cause them to repent.  Unfortunately they don’t see it.  Or when God is obviously calling someone to make a big decision.  It seems clear that this is what God is asking of them.  Unfortunately they don’t see it.

Here, God commands the fish to swallow Jonah.  The purpose of this was to cause Jonah to repent.  Jonah recognized what was happening.  He recognized the situation that God had ordained, and he made the wise choice to repent.  This whole chapter is an account of Jonah’s repentance.

I read something recently regarding this chapter.  It says, “Although God’s messengers may avoid His will, God will bring them back through discipline.  God will not abandon His plans”

So what about you?  Has God obviously been orchestrating events in your life to get your attention?  Maybe he has called you to something big!!  Maybe you’re too afraid to obey.  Maybe it’s sin.  Maybe your own sin has caused enough consequences of its own to get your attention.  Maybe it’s time to recognize what is actually happening and repent.

The rest of this book is laced with God’s grace to Jonah and Nineveh.  It shows that God values small steps in the right direction.  And this is all because Jonah and the people of Nineveh recognized what was happening and decided to repent.  Repent today and watch God’s grace at work in your life.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

April 6, 2012

Today you should read: Jonah 1

Have you ever felt God was calling you to do something or go somewhere but you decided He must be mistaken? I did that very thing when God called me to ministry. It was tenth grade and I distinctly remember God calling me, very clearly, to ministry. I took upon myself to inform God of my inadequacies and how He had made a mistake. When that didn’t work I pulled a “Jonah” I ran from God’s call of my life. Jonah was called to go to Nineveh, an extremely wicked town and call them to repentance. The problem was that Jonah didn’t want them to repent. He wanted God’s judgment on them, so he ran.

Well, the rest of the story is that, of course, God knows where he is and what he is doing and he sends a storm. Has that ever happened to you before? God calls you for His service and you run only to find yourself running head first into a “storm”? That’s what happened, literally, to Jonah. The sailors find out it’s all Jonah’s fault and toss him overboard, where a big fish is waiting to swallow him up.

What can we learn from this? I think we can learn 3 basic lessons here:

1. We need to follow God’s call. Whatever that is in your life, you need to follow it. Maybe that’s for your job, your family or an area of service. Maybe God is calling you to pack up and move overseas to serve Him. Whatever that call on your life is from God, don’t hesitate, just do it.

2. When we run, it’s worse. I learned this lesson from my momma when she tried to spank me. If I ran from her the punishment usually lasted longer and was more severe. When we run from God He will bring things into or take things out of our life to get our attention and bring us back on track with His plan. I found out the hard way that running from God’s call is worse than just following in obedience. Whatever God’s call is for you, don’t run; it’s not a fun road to travel.

3. God’s plans will not be stopped. What a great truth for us to trust in. When God lays out a plan, no matter how far we run or how much we kick and scream it will come about. Job knew this as well and says so in Job 42:2 “”I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” So when we read that God has a plan for us, to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11) we can take comfort that that plan will come about in our lives.

So follow God’s call in your life, whatever it is. It will be worth it in the end.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd