Archive for March, 2011

Jonah’s Lesson (4:5-8) So Jonah goes out of the city to pout and see if maybe God will destroy them. Pouting? Okay so i have pouted a time or two. It is hot so God causes a plant to grow and give Jonah shade. The text says Jonah was “extremely happy about the plant.” Then, when the plant withers, Jonah wants to die. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that Jonah would be so happy about the plant and so distraught over a plant’s death? In my opinion, Jonah is all mixed up in his priorities, but then who am i to speak.

In this story i see God’s omnipotence as He controls the wind, the sea, the fish and the plant. And all of His power is directed toward a single goal – the reclamation of sinful humans – both Jonah and the Ninevites.

I think this book shows that Jonah knew a lot about God. He presumed on God’s grace and assumed his deliverance while still in the fish. Jonah knew God was compassionate and gracious and would not destroy the Assyrians if they repented. So, although Jonah knew about God, he did not want to obey him. It could even be said that Jonah disobeyed in the name of justice. The Assyrians certainly had committed enough atrocities that they deserved judgment, and Jonah wanted them to get their due. But he was ignoring the sovereignty of God and disobeying God. He also was displaying a double standard. He was forgetting that Israel had been forgiven many times for her sins and that he himself had just been forgiven for his disobedience. He was a walking contradiction. Walking contradiction! i so have a problem with walking contradictions.

I work very hard not to be a walking contradiction, but…. i am especially stirred up by Christian walking contradictions. i am staying away from examples or specifics so that i do not offend anyone who may read this. If the shoe fits wear it? Okay so i’ll use one example. We get people who come into the cafe and order a diet drink of some sort and then purchase a snickers bar with it. Contradiction? Mixed signals at the least.

I see Jonah as a good example of how we tend to judge others and consider ourselves to be better than others. Jonah’s life illustrates his failure to forgive and love. Jesus summed up the whole law in one phrase, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jonah clung with pride to his heritage as a Jew, the chosen people of God, and he condemned the Assyrians. I think Jonah mistakenly thought that he deserved the favor of God. He called on God for deliverance without repenting of his evil. Why did God choose Israel? Because they were the biggest nation? Because they were more spiritual than the rest? No. He chose them out of grace. If you read Eze 16, you will see a good description of what Israel was like and what God did for them. It also describes how they became proud and forsook God. They certainly did not deserve the special relationship with God.

Well i think i’m done with Jonah even though there is much more. Tomorrow is Ann Maries birthday so i do not want to be a walking contradiction who says that she is a gift from God and yet treats her as ordinary so as much as i can tomorrow will be about her. We are going away for a couple of days. As i said tomorrow is all about her and then the remaining two days are about me and I Am. While i am taking steps in the natural i have no clear-cut thus saith the Lord. i am very focused on taking my thoughts captive right now and this is proving to be a challenge with what is happening in the natural. Nothing i have not seen before but certainly things that i had hoped i would never see again. But God!
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God is gracious and He does answer Jonah’s prayer and the fish delivers Jonah to the beach outside of Ninevah.

i’m back to Jonah.

God’s Command (3:1-2) 1AND THE word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you. God repeated his command to Jonah to go to Ninevah. I think it shows the grace of God that He gave Jonah a second chance. To me it also let’s me know that when it’s God, He doesn’t give up on me.

Jonah’s Obedience (3:3-4) 3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city of three days’ journey [sixty miles in circumference]. This time Jonah obeys. It seems that there was no complaint this time. God had gotten Jonah’s attention.

Jonah’s message is a simple one –  4And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!  There wasn’t a lot of persuasion. I don’t think Jonah tried very hard. He would have gone into town, said his piece and left saying something like, “Well, I told them. It’s their own fault now when God destroys them.” I think this also shows that Jonah hasn’t really changed his attitude. It seems to me he is obeying, but grudgingly.

Ninevah’s Prayer (3:5-9)  5So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6For word came to the king of Nineveh [of all that had happened to Jonah, and his terrifying message from God], and he arose from his throne and he laid his robe aside, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh, By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed nor drink water.  8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who can tell, God may turn and revoke His sentence against us [when we have met His terms], and turn away from His fierce anger so that we perish not. The people of Ninevah heard him and believed him and repented. And this was a thorough repentance. Everyone from the king down to the cows were crying out.

Inspite of Jonah’s attitude and lack of desire to do what God asked of Him, God recieved His Glory and Honor and in the process an entire people was brought to Him. INSPITE of Jonah!!!!

God’s Answer (3:10) 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said that He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them]. God’s mind was changed.

Jonah’s Anger (4:1-4) 1BUT IT displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry. 2And he prayed to the Lord and said, I pray You, O Lord, is not this just what I said when I was still in my country? That is why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and [when sinners turn to You and meet Your conditions] You revoke the [sentence of] evil against them. 3Therefore now, O Lord, I beseech You, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live. 4Then said the Lord, Do you do well to be angry?

Jonah is furious when he sees the people’s repentance. He knows now that God is not going to destroy them. Here we also see his true heart and further proof that he did not repent in chapter 2. The truth comes out about Jonah’s fleeing from God in the beginning. He knew God would forgive them if they repented, but Jonah hated the Assyrians so much he didn’t want to even give them the chance to repent.

i have never experienced this kind of anger or dislike toward any people. The more i listen to this conversation i realize how patient God is with my conversations. But why did Jonah hate them? The Assyrians were a dominant world power during this time and had even defeated Israel in a few battles and exacted tribute from Israel. Assyria wasn’t just a non-hostile Gentile nation. It was an active enemy of Israel.

So what effect do i to have on an active enemy?

i apologize ahead of time for any spelling issues. The spell checker is down and i have a choice to make, publish now or wait for it to be back up? Now is when i am done so now is when i will publish. The decision was made long ago to post when done so now i am just managing that decision.

i think i have been focused on the fall versus the getting back up. i have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out what i’m missing, what i’m not committed to, and there are hundreds of things that come to mind, yet none that seem to matter in this instance. i find that the only answer to my search is that the fall is not what i am to focus on, but what i do when i get back up makes all the difference. What i also found is that most of the time i am not aware that i am behaving different than what i am professing. Now i’m not saying that ignorance is an excuse, but i also must recognize yesterdays verses that say, “Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19

i need integrity. Integrity means i act the same whether i am down or up. It means i see something greater and stronger than the troubles of the day or my fall. Integrity is deep water running underneath the bouncing rapids of the surface. Integrity means living by principles, the same principles in all seasons.

Integrity stems from a vision of what is worth living for. It is precisely why Paul encouraged the Philippians to focus their thoughts on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” (4:8). Pondering such thoughts—the Bible is full of them—draws you to integrity, and gives you the strength to get up on your feet again.

So here are a few things i learned recently.

1. Know where i am going once i get back up. Once the decision is made to get back up i must immediately make the decision as to where i’m going. Then all i do once i’m up is manage that decision. There are always forks in the road but they are less of a distraction if i know where i’m going. Sampson only thought he knew where he was going and every time he came to a fork he had to decide and then did so rashly and ended up on the wrong path. i know where i am going. i have no doubt about it. So i get back up when my outer collapse occurs because my inner strength did not sustain it. i get back up because of my personal, intimate relationship with the Father. i am not looking for a reason to fall or to stay down so this righteous man rises up this time and next time and the time after that and so on and so on.

2. i must have a policy. Policy: a definite course of action. A policy is a standard answer to a reoccurring question. These are not my words but those of one of the campus pastors. A standard answer to a reoccurring question. i choose to live with integrity so when choices come i do not have to think about what to do, i just do what has integrity. my definite course of action when i feel that someone has done me wrong is to not record a record of it, that’s integrity to the word. i make definite choices of action according to the word. i must have a policy that i am not willing to compromise.

3. i must determine if i have a price. This is just a brief overview of that thought and maybe one day i’ll expand upon it, but for now it’s a simple question, “Do i have a price?” i might ask for what? For anything is my reply. Do i have a price to use foul language? The answer is no. i know this because in high school i hung out with kids that would take a collection to give to me if i would just say one cuss word. Four years later i had not given in to the price of over $100.00 and then one day one of the kids, now a young adult, told me he would have been disappointed if i had given in. i am not for sale for any amount. Now here’s the funny thing… well not so much, when i find myself compromising or that i have fallen it’s usually not because of a price i was offered. i find i usually do it for free. Go figure.

Righteous Man Falls!

Posted: March 28, 2011 in Wandering Thoughts

For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.

ed falls seven times, and rises up again,…. i think this is to be the course of a truly just man; not of one that is only outwardly and seemingly so, or of a temporary believer; but of those who are thoroughly convinced of their own unrighteousness, and believe in Christ for righteousness, and have it applied and given to them; as well as have principles of grace and righteousness implanted in them, and live righteously in this evil world.

It means that even though i become ensnared, and stumble, and fall into distress and calamity, even though i do that i will rise again out of it, and so all attempts that come upon me are vain and fruitless. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” He delivers me in six troubles, and even in seven, or in many, one after another.  i rises out of them all, i come out of great tribulation, and at last… i safely enter the kingdom of heaven.

i am a  just man, while i fall, i do not fall from my righteousness, because it is an everlasting one, nor from the grace of God, even though i may fall into temptation, and by it i may fall into sin, as every just man does. “for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not”, Ecclesiastes 7:20, and that frequently, even every day, and for that reason i stand every day in need of  a fresh application of grace, for which i am directed to pray daily.  i may even be left to fall foully into very deep sins, as David, Peter, and others, but not totally and finally, so as to perish, because i am on the heart of God, in the hands of Christ, on Him the foundation, united to Him, and kept by the power of God, i will and without doubt rise again sooner or later.

i know that it is not by my own power and strength, but by the strength of the Lord. i rise by renewed repentance, and under a fresh discovery of God’s grace and mercy to heal my short falls.

When i fall i must depart from evil and do good; i must seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!  The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. at first i thought this was a contradiction. Doesn’t uncompromisingly mean that i wouldn’t fall to begin with? No… no it doesn’t mean that i would never fall. It means that i am a work in progress. It means i haven’t arrived. It means i am His son and He is teaching me day-to-day what uncompromisingly righteous looks like.

i am fully convinced that i am righteous and that when i am less than what i know is right to put me in a lesser place i can and do cry for help, and the Lord hears, and delivers me out of all my distress and troubles… not consequences i might add. i am fully aware that the Lord is close to me when i have a broken heart He saves me when i am crushed with sorrow for sin and am humbly and thoroughly retentive.

The Lord redeems the lives of His servants, and none of those who take refuge and trust in Him shall be condemned or held guilty. i am His humble servant. So i am not a thief, i am a righteous man who falls. God did not call me a thief He simply pointed out that i was doing something other than what i professed.

Many who have read the past weeks posts regarding me being a thief have suggested that i just change what i profess. i can not find anything that would allow me to accept that as a viable option. i can not profess less than i believe myself to be. Yes i may fall seven times; maybe seven hundred thousand times. But… i rise again as a humble servant of the Lord.

ed falls seven times, and rises up again,…. this is my course as a truly just man; not of one that is only outwardly and seemingly so, or as a temporary believer; but of one who is thoroughly convinced of my own unrighteousness, and belief in Christ for my righteousness, and have it applied and given to me; as well as have principles of grace and righteousness implanted in me, and live righteously in this evil world.

More Clorox right? So what is the equivalent in spiritual terms. Is the answer as simple as just give what i profess and then it’s a non-issue, then my whites will be bright white. Or do i profess less and thue my whites will be whiter? Can i get a sticker on me that says “New and Improved?”

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Devine Glory.

i don’t see this lesson as a guilt and condemnation thing. It’s more of a heads up. i think that the Holy Spirit is raising the bar. This to me is like when we first opened the Onething campus and we determined that we would stand for two things as a prayer center. The first was Sexual purity for the Tamp area and the second was for unity of the body in the Tampa area. It wasn’t long when Ann Marie and i heard the words, “Do you want to talk about unity of the body or do you want to do something about it?” Well of course we were smarter than the average bear and so we said we want to do something about it. Today that looks like 13 churches and 13 ministries and community groups sharing this campus. So at any one time there can be 5 different groups all meeting within 20 yards of each other and…. sharing everything as one. So the spirit says change your actions or change what you profess.

So what does this look like for me… well i can talk about the word, taking thoughts captive, praying for people, speaking only the word, and the list can go on or, i can do something about it. Truth be told i think or i thought i did a pretty good job of not perfecting those areas but of at least being intentional about them. Again intentions are nothing to brag about. Committment, willingness to go to battle, is what God is looking for. Maybe an example will say this better. Yesterday was extremely busy and i only had 1 person for the morning to help me. The prayer room was set up and torn down 3 times in one day. Another room was set up and torn down twice. One of the campus pastors comes in to visit. In our conversation he shares that he had a physical test done and something was thought to be possible and had him concerned. I passed it off with, “well it’s not your time and all will be fine like the issues that you just went through.” See ya! I tell people when they ask what i do that i am a prayer pastor and that i facilitate a prayer room. BUT… where were the actions that go along with what i profess? Where was the clorox? So what did i do? My whites did not get brighter. i stole God’s glory in that situation. Now here’s what i know. He will not suffer at the lack of my short fall. God is faithful, but for me i can never recover that moment. Yes repentance is the way to go but my heart is sad for the lack of seeing what God may have done had i given Him what i profess.

i am not content to depend upon God’s grace. Yet i know i am dependent, but to me there is a difference. i knew what was going on while i was doing it and yet i paid no attention, that is until it came time to write the post for today. WHY!!! i could blame the campus, the mess left by the groups, the “Team” that i just dismissed, or any number of things, but it’s me. God gave me that time just like He gave Ananias and Sapphira their property and money from the sale. i did just what they did IN THE MIDST OF WRITING ABOUT IT! I held back just a portion for other things.

When ed is a RIGHTEOUS person,  participates in making up a RIGHTEOUS body, that allows God’s HOLY presence and activity to be expressed in his life, a watching and waiting world will be drawn to Him! Oh… and i won’t be a thief and my whites will be whiter.

Just Maybe…

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Wandering Thoughts

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Devine Glory.

i’m going to give a politically correct name to what Ananias and Sapphira were doing. i’ll call it “impression management.” And “impression management is defined as manipulating others’ opinion of me?

Who hasn’t sometimes taken stuff from an employer for personal use? Or falsified a tax return a little bit? Or withheld the truth, or covered up with a“white lie”?

Ananias and Sapphira’s motives were probably pretty ordinary – perhaps even defensible.

Maybe’s

Maybe they were inspired, caught up in the moment by the generosity of Barnabas.

Maybe i am caught up in the moment of a Seminar, a CD, a session where the worship team is great.

Maybe they were fearful and wondered what would happen in their old age if they gave away all their assets.

Maybe i am more concerned about what i will do when the leases at the center are up than i care to admit. Maybe i’m spending to much time considering what i’ll have when this all come to an end.

Maybe their critical selves asked questions about the “bums” on the receiving end of these handouts.

Maybe i ask what about them more than what about me.

Maybe their distrustful selves were raising questions about the apostles’ honesty; the church hadn’t appointed auditors yet.

Maybe i’m catching glimpses of what i deem as bad behavior in others more than my own behavior.

In spite of all the maybes their self-serving selves won; they wanted glory without sacrifice, the kudos Barnabas had received without having to pay the price. 

In spite of all the maybes my self-serving self considers, perhaps i want just a little consideration, a little appreciation, a little support.

The actions of Ananias and Sapphira were all about them. They were about doing rather than being! There are three basic truths in life.

Truth about God – They showed contempt for God.

Truth about themselves – They showed themselves as being filled with Vanity and ambition.

Truth about others – They showed total disregard for others by the corruption which they were bringing into the society.

Ephesians 5:10 Try to learn in your experience what is pleasing to God, let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him. Let your lives be so in contrast as to expose and reprove and convict.

When INCREDIBLE people,  make up an INCREDIBLE body, allow God’s INCREDIBLE presence and activity to be expressed in their lives, a watching and waiting world will be drawn to Him!

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Devine Glory.

3But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land? Ananias you have been tempted and drawn away, enticed and baited by your own evil desire (lust, passions). The evil desire, has conceived, given birth to sin, and sin, is fully matured, and brings forth your death. All because you tried to steal God’s Glory.

When Ananias brought the offering He could have said that it was only a portion. 4As long as it remained unsold, was it not still your own? And [even] after it was sold, was not [the money] at your disposal and under your control? Why then, is it that you have proposed and purposed in your heart to do this thing? [How could you have the heart to do such a deed?] You have not [simply] lied to men [playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful] but to God.

5Upon hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great dread and terror took possession of all who heard of it. Ananias – “Jehovah has given” sin fully matured… then death.

6And the young men arose and wrapped up [the body] and carried it out and buried it. 7Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not having learned of what had happened. 8And Peter said to her, Tell me, did you sell the land for so much? Yes, she said, for so much. 9Then Peter said to her, How could you two have agreed and conspired together to try to deceive the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [also].

And without any time to deny, repent or plead for mercy…10 instantly she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men entering found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Sapphira –Aramaic, “beautiful” A thing having quality.

11And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled [great awe and strange terror and dread seized them].

Is that what it will take for me to be what i profess to be? i have the best intentions, intentions… i know what they say about intentions, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Then i am reminded of interest and committment. Perhaps if i saw someone held accountable to their profession of faith… of course not me, then maybe i’d take it more serious. Just as the crowd around them took notice 11And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled [great awe and strange terror and dread seized them] perhaps i would as well. i wonder how long it lasted? Don’t get me wrong, i am not trying to beat myself up, but i am being honest with myself. i profess things as being God’s and then say or do or treat them as something different. i do this most often with my wife. i profess her as a gift from God and as my very best friend and then am inpatient with her. Whether i think she is deserving or not, you just don’t treat so valuable a gift that way. i would be lost without her but in many cases i treat her as ordinary.

There was a man in the Army of Alexander the Great who was also named Alexander. He was accused of cowardly actions and was brought before Alexander The Great. Alexander asked him, what’s your name? He answered softly, “Alexander.” “I can’t hear you,” the ruler stated. The man again said, a little louder, “Alexander.” One more time the ruler said I still can’t hear you! The man replied, Alexander. Alexander the Great then stated to the man these words. “Either change your name or change your conduct.”

i have another version of the story. There is a man named ed who professes to be  a Christian in the Army of the Lord. ed was accused of cowardly actions and was brought before the Lord. The Lord  asked him, what’s your name? ed answered softly, “Christian.” “I can’t hear you,” the Lord stated. ed again said, a little louder, “Christian.” One more time the Lord said I still can’t hear you! ed replied, CHRISTIAN. The Lord then stated to ed these words. “Either change your name or change your conduct.”

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Devine Glory.

A Thief – Who? me?

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Wandering Thoughts

Here i go again. This past weekend i was led away from Jonah back to this idea of my “Want To” or giving my “All. The latest example of this idea that God requires ALL is a story that comes from Acts 4 starting at verse 31 to the end and then Acts 5.

31And (In continuance) when (At that moment) they (Those of like mind) had PRAYED (Not socialized, not read the word, not shared their thoughts), the place in which they were assembled  (Where they were right then)was shaken (As a result of what they had done); and they were ALL (All were praying so all recieved) filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage. 32Now (As a result of) the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was [exclusively] his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all. (AS A RESULT OF PRAYER)

 33And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly upon them all. 34Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, (That was the why to) (This is a how to) for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales

Next i get a picture of what it looked like. 35And laid it at the feet of the apostles (special messengers). Then distribution was made according as anyone had need. 36Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which interpreted means Son of Encouragement, 37Sold a field which belonged to him and brought the sum of money and laid it at the feet of the apostles.

All this is just history to see what was going on, where it was going on, when it was being done,  how it was being done, why it was being done, who was doing it, which is very important to the next part of the story. Oh, and i also see who was interested and who was committed.

Acts 5 1BUT –  (In contrast to)… Barnabas who gave as an act of worship.  A certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property,  2And with his wife’s knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles.

James 1:14 is what was taking place. Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.

Yes Ananias was ‘s sin was about to become fully mature and would bring forth death, but more importantly he was “stealing Divine glory,” by withholding what he was professing as belonging to the Lord. When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Divine Glory.

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Divine Glory.

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Divine Glory.

When i do not give what i profess as belonging to God, i am stealing His Divine Glory.

“God seeks comrades and claims love, the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience.”

Other lessons from the book of Jonah for me are:

  • National sin demands national repentance! Just as this principle applied to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, it also applies to Brandon and Florida.
  • This book is a strong rebuke of a narrow exclusiveness that characterized the Israelites. Jonah, whose attitude was typical of his people, had no desire to see the Assyrians saved — they were the enemy! He fled rather than preach salvation to this distasteful people. And even after finally preaching it, he sat outside the city waiting to see if God would change His mind and still destroy them. When he realized God was indeed going to show mercy to these people, he prayed to die rather than have to witness such a thing! (Jonah 4:1-3). 
  • When i have such an attitude — “i am the only one God favors” ……. “i would rather die than see those people saved!” ……. “i’m not about to preach the gospel to that bunch, that person” — then i have repeated the sin of Jonah. Further, i have failed to experience the extent of the love of God.  
  • i cannot run away from God (Psalm 139:7-12). “Jonah learned, and i would think that i and millions like me would have learned, that when God asks us to do what we do not want to do, it is far easier to go and do it than to run away from it.” “When one sets out to baffle God, there is bound to be a storm” (George L. Robinson). 
  • “The infinite concern of God for life is shown in contrast to the concern of man for the material.”
  • In Jonah i see clearly that “the most unpromising mission fields are often the most responsive.” “From the human standpoint Assyria was the last place an Israelite would choose for a missionary venture, so Jonah took a trip in the opposite direction.”  The Lord is willing to forgive and forget!
  • So i left off with Jonah being tossed into the sea and then…. i find that God is not through with Jonah. A great fish comes along and swallows him.  Talk about having a bad day! Remember, Jonah went down, down, down in the first few verses. Now God is sending Jonah down to the depths of Sheol (2:2). At least that is what it probably felt like to Jonah.

    Jonah’s Prayer (2:1-9) Jonah finally prays and thanks God for his deliverance even before he is delivered. This shows that he is convinced God answers prayer. So i might think that at this point Jonah would repent, especially since he now goes and preaches to Ninevah. But not so fast.

    1THEN JONAH prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly,  2And said, I cried out of my distress to the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of Sheol cried I, and You heard my voice. 3For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me.  4Then I said, I have been cast out of Your presence and Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple. 5The waters compassed me about, even to [the extinction of] life; the abyss surrounded me, the seaweed was wrapped about my head.  6I went down to the bottoms and the very roots of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever. Yet You have brought up my life from the pit and corruption, O Lord my God.  7When my soul fainted upon me [crushing me], I earnestly and seriously remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. 8Those who pay regard to false, useless, and worthless idols forsake their own [Source of] mercy and loving-kindness.  9But as for me, I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation and deliverance belong to the Lord!  10And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

    Nowhere in his prayer did he mention his own rebellion and sin, so there is no real confession going on here. He considered himself better than the pagans (cf. vs 8-9). What is sad is that i have already seen that the sailor’s come out looking better than Jonah. I think Jonah is making a big assumption here that God would deliver him. He certainly didn’t deserve it.

    The life of Jonah parallels the history of the nation of Israel, and the phrase, “Salvation is from the Lord” is a key ingredient in that parallel. Like Jonah, Israel was chosen. Like Jonah, Israel rebelled. Like Jonah, Israel received discipline (dispersion and abuse by other nations up to the present day). Israel looks to military alliances and national defense as the solution but until Israel recognizes that Salvation is from the Lord, there can be no ultimate deliverance.

    I think my life is also parallel to Jonah’s experience. God calls me, but i rebel. i search for life in everything else but God until i come to a point in my life where i am so low that i finally recognize my inability and come to the conclusion that Salvation is from the Lord.

    After the knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork. James Prescott Joule

    “The ability or inability to accept a miracle depends on whether or not one spells his God with a capital ‘G'” — Homer Hailey

    The fact that there are obvious miracles recorded in the book of Jonah has caused some — who doubt or deny the miraculous power of God — to label this work as fiction. There are several miracles recorded here, but “so much has been made of the ‘fish story’ that i forget all else about the book of Jonah”. The various miracles recorded in the book of Jonah are:

    • God raising up a storm — 1:4
    • God calming the storm — 1:15
    • God’s commissioning of a great fish to swallow Jonah — 1:17
    • Jonah surviving three days & three nights inside the fish — 1:17
    • God commanding the fish to vomit Jonah out on dry land — 2:10
    • A city the size of Nineveh experiencing such a wide-spread repentance — 3:5-9
    • The Lord raising up a plant, a worm, and a scorching east wind — 4:6-8

    For me the overall message of the book is twofold:

    1. God’s love and concern is for me/all people, and anyone/including me who is willing to repent and turn to God can find salvation (Acts 26:19-20; II Peter 3:9).

     2. God is a universal God. There is but ONE God, and He alone is to be the God of all people. Jonah preached to people, who worshipped Nebo. He warned them and warns me that  they and i must repent and turn to Jehovah, and worship and serve Him only.

    One of the lessons from the book of Jonah for me is:

    • “God’s judgments, even when declared in prophecy, can be averted by genuine repentance.” This is a “crucial theological truth relating human repentance to escaping from anticipated judgment” (New Layman’s Bible Commentary). “Jeremiah 18:7-8 — “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.”

    This is a mouth full. “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; ONE MOMENT!

    One: being a particular, unique, a certain

    Moment: an indefinitely short period of time, instant

    Might: express the possibility (This means it is not absolute… at this moment)

    “At one/particular, unique, certain moment/indefinitely short period of time I might/express the possibility concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it;

    Thank God for the semi colon. A semicolon ( ; ) is a conventional punctuation mark with several uses, mainly for pauses in sentences and breaks in lists. The pause in this sentence is followed by an “if” which is good news for me.

    If: in case that, granting or supposing that, on condition that

    Relent: soften in feeling, temper, determination, become more mild, compassionate, or forgiving, become less severe, slacken:“if granting or supposing that nation/person against which I have spoken turns from its/my evil, I will relent become less severe, soften in feeling, concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.”

    So if i have this straight, i can change Gods mind, understanding that it is not an entitlement but Grace?