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A little bit of the book of Jonah in all of us

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been finding a little bit of Jonah in myself.  I think sometimes we Christians can behave a lot like Jonah given our circumstances.

Jonah’s Disobedience

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Interestingly enough, I found this passage title to be “Disobedience”.  That is the beginning of all of our problems.  When God initially tells us not to do something, and we don’t listen.  Unforgiveness is an area where we can be disobedient to the Lord.  Also doing all the little things He tells us not to do can be considered being disobedient to the Lord.  Some Christians know they are not supposed to do things like drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, go to nightclubs, watch soap operas, but they do it anyway because something inside our carnal nature just wants to rebel.  It’s in all of us.  The amazing thing about Jonah is that he had the Presence of the Lord with him, and then he decided to leave and turn away.  Some of us may be experiencing great things in the Presence of the Lord in our church and when times get tough we may be tempted to pull away.

The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to [a]break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Doesn’t this story sound familiar?  This is exactly what happened with Jesus on the boat.  The storm was raging and He was still asleep.  There must be something about security in the Lord that allows you to fall asleep during the worst of circumstances.  I remember when Hurricane Ike hit Houston.  It was pummeling the roofs, and it was one of the worst ones we’ve had that caused a lot of damage, but it wasn’t as bad as Katrina.  Well I was rattled by the storm, and my dad, who was and is an unbeliever slept through it.  If an unbeliever can do that, how much more can we who have faith sleep through the literal storms, and the symbolic storms in our life.  It’s easy when things are going well.  But when things are hard it’s hard to have that faith that everything is going to turn out for good.  Jonah was even out of the Presence of the Lord, which is why he was getting them into trouble.  Sometimes when we are disobedient, we can cause the ship of local church to be in turmoil.  It is also a reminder that if you’re considering switching churches, then, what can happen, when you do.

Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may [d]learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “ Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “[e]How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

So here Jonah makes his declaration that he is the reason that they are in the boat because he fled from the Presence of the Lord.  This is what Adam and Eve did as well.  When we have that Presence of the Lord upon our lives (which comes through living a repentant life and worship and the Truth of God’s Word) we shouldn’t leave it at any cost.  We shouldn’t let our unforgiveness be an issue and we should choose to let our anger, bitterness, resentment, and all the things in our heart that are keeping us away from God, not be an issue in our lives anymore.

17 [i]And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

This is the stomach of the fish that Jonah was in.  Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights.  Jesus was in the tomb three days and three nights and then He was and is risen.  Sometimes we feel like we are dead and stuck, and we are in the same place.  We don’t think that we are going to get out of it, and then a miracle happens. But during those times we cry out in distress and in pain so that we can see a deliverance from our problems.

[a]Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord,

And He answered me.

I cried for help from the [b]depth of Sheol;

You heard my voice.

“For You had cast me into the deep,

Into the heart of the seas,

And the current [c]engulfed me.

All Your breakers and billows passed over me.

“So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [d]Your sight.

Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

“ Water encompassed me to the [e]point of death.

The great deep [f]engulfed me,

Weeds were wrapped around my head.

“I descended to the roots of the mountains.

The earth with its bars was around me forever,

But You have brought up my life from [g]the pit, O Lord my God.

“While [h]I was fainting away,

I remembered the Lord,

And my prayer came to You,

Into Your holy temple.

“Those who regard [i]vain idols

Forsake their faithfulness,

But I will sacrifice to You

With the voice of thanksgiving.

That which I have vowed I will pay.

Salvation is from the Lord.”

10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Look at the prayer that Jonah made.  He said what misery that he was in and he knew the Lord’s power.  That’s a key to answered prayer.  To recognize and be truthful about your situation.  He also offered up thanksgiving, which some people say should be at the beginning but it actually takes place at the end. I am not sure if Nineveh or Tarshish is the place that Jonah is talking about in his prayers but I am assuming it is Nineveh.  This place that Jonah hated so much was full of idols according to him.  Sometimes we get caught up in a place that is full of idols.  We just want to see them leave and we get so bitter and angry even in our prayers, that we don’t see that God still loves them. Sometimes we ourselves get caught up in our own idols

Nineveh Repents

3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was [a]an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the [b]ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let [c]men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in [d]his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would [e]bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Sometimes we are so on top of the world and that we have achieved to new levels and new heights and we think we are great and may have taken God for granted not realizing how much we need Him and how much we have drifted away and that is when we become overthrown.  Then we begin to believe in God, and we may go through periods where even food is not as important as God and we cry out.  If you’ve never lived a day where you are so hungry, then you really don’t know what it is like to be fasting.  The king said, “Do not let beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.  Do not let them eat or drink water.”    Can you imagine that – not being able to eat or drink water.  It’s almost like having the stomach flu, but this didn’t happen by chance, it was voluntary.  Can you imagine the suffering. They repented by fasting and turning from their wicked way, which God changed His mind about them.

Jonah’s Displeasure Rebuked

4 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

So then Jonah, was like – “I had to go through all that for nothing – for no good reason.  I had known as much to begin with, and I had to go through all that.  It wasn’t worth it.  It’s better off if I died”  God was not pleased with Jonah’s attitude.  God was looking for a good reason to be angry.  In his mind he was thinking what he went through would have been better off if they hadn’t repented.  If they had just stayed the way they were.

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of [d]it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the Lord God appointed a [e]plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was [f]extremely happy about the [g]plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “ Death is better to me than life.”

Sometimes we get so stressed out by different things and different things come our way and we just don’t know how to handle it.  Sometimes we find little satisfaction in temporal things for comfort but when they are not working we get discouraged.  Sometimes we like our car so much and it gives us joy and freedom and then it gets totalled then we get so discouraged.   Sometimes God provides shade, but then He removes it too.  Don’t you think Jonah would have gotten out of his predicament if He said a prayer like “Thank You Lord for the awesome sun who shines upon the heat during the day.  Great is the Lord who created the sun, and deliver me from this heat.”  We might tend to think that it is like the Amalekites, or the devil that attacks us at our weakest, but sometimes it could be God trying to teach us a lesson.  We don’t rely upon God and his goodness and what he has done for us.  Jonah had been rescued out of the fish.  That was a big deal!!!  Imagine just all no air and you can’t breathe, but then you get delivered and don’t you believe that the God who did before can do it again.  We too often become like Jonah.  God used this reminder to show Jonah to sympathize with what the Ninevites were going thorugh.

Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which [h]came up overnight and perished [i]overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

The lesson that God was trying to teach Jonah and all of us is compassion.  There are so many lessons in this book of Jonah.  When a city comes to repentance, God spares the city.  When we come into repentance God spares our lives.  This shows the mercy of God and His immense compassion.  We often see God in the Old Testament as wrathful and strict and showing Judgment, but in this example it shows us that He is still merciful and kind and loving.  That He loves us immensely, and He wants to show us compassion.  Sometimes when we are angry with someone and we can’t seem to see the big picture and the whole situation God uses circumstances and speaks to us regarding certain issues so that we can live out the characters He wants to see us develop.

 

 

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The Multi-Faceted Word of God

There are so many different ways to interpret the Bible these days, and we often wonder why.  That’s because we don’t understand who God is.  We have to begin by knowing the names of God, and then we can learn about the attributes of God.

I’ve touched before on the names of God.  You can search for my posting.  But there is something deeper to really get to understand what God is about.

6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

This was Isaiah speaking in the future because He had a vision where He had been taken up.  I read somewhere I believe it in the Bible that every time God turned around the angels would cry “Holy” at the new sight of God.

Irregardless, the WORD of GOD is still mutlifaceted meaning that Jesus has many sides to His character and personality.  He wants You to get to know Him, and the same is true with the Heavenly Father, which is why He sent His Son into the world to send the Holy Spirit into the world to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

One of the ways that really needs to get ingrained into the Body of Christ is that we cannot mold God into our image, He has to mold us into His image.  We need to become more and more like Him.

One of the main causes of division in the Body of Christ was this divisions on how to understand God, and why He did all those things that He did in the Old Testament, and why He brings Judgment and Wrath upon the people.  Yes it is good to know Him as Abba Father, and as Jesus knows Him, but even your own earthly father, if you really unconditionally love him, you will want to love all parts of his personality, even the ones you don’t like because your father means a lot to you.  The Heavenly Father is the same way.

In Exodus 34:12 it says that (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).   With the foundation of Jesus as the Savior, you cannot properly understand the fullness of God unless you understand that He is Jealous.  Interestingly enough, the word used here is “Lord” and that means Jesus, and Jesus is the bridegroom, and He is Jealous for His bride like a husband is jealous for his wife.  If someone came and harmed His wife, He would take vengeance on her.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and Israel is the Bride of the Father.  Everything God has done is for you, so that you would love Him with your whole heart and not love anything else above him.  He will destroy whatever hurts His bride, and He will protect His bride as well because He loves her.  God is very passionate and His love for you is so that you can love him in return.

I want to point out a scene – in the movie Bruce Almighty – again, where Jim Carrey who plays a man who has gotten the powers of God for a week says, “How can I get someone to love me with affecting free-will?”  Morgan Freeman, who plays God says, “If you find that one out let me know.”

Also Backstreet Boys have a song, Quit Playing Games with My Heart,  and one of the lines is “Everything I’ve done is for you so what is it that you can’t see?”  That’s the way God feels.  He feels like sometimes we play games with His heart, and we trample over His heart and we abuse His heart because we don’t live the way He wants us to.  We don’t accept Him for who He really is.  He is a whole person and the Word of God is the complete picture of who He is and every part of it is about His love for you and what he will do to people that don’t love Him completely.

If worldly people can capture this sense of passionate love, how come Christians can’t find the same thing about God?  Yes He is Grace, but He is also Justice.  If He is not justice, then who will bring justice to the earth?  What hope do we have then?  Yes His justice may not seem fair at times, but He can see things more clearly and from a better perspective than we can.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehendit.- John 1:1-4

This Word, was and is Jesus and here the word used is “logos” meaning Christ Himself, and the Bible is the only way we can discover who He is.  All Truth about Him is revealed through His Word and when we come to the realization that the Word of God and His attributes are mutually exclusive meaning that they cannot be separated.

We want Him to love us unconditionally, but do we love Him unconditionally, whatever He says in His Word, do we appreciate it?

So to get back to the point of the message I want to bring out – He has done everything on this earth for you, and just for you.  Just like a tree wants all it’s fruit, leaves, and branches, to be nourished, God wants you, and He desires you to protect You and to take You and embrace You like a hen is with her chicks under her wings.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16

In this Scripture in 2 Timothy it says that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and that means not only the New Testament,and not just  the Old Testament only.  Each part of Scripture is there so that you may be (saying that you not already are, when you accept Christ) complete.

There is a process in which you become complete.   Here is 2 Timothy 3:16 in the Amplified: 16Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).

To know God’s will we go to John 17:

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,[b] that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world,[c] I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept;[d] and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

For those believers out there that want to know more about righteousness, I want to ask you a question.  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who is right all the time?  I mean every single time.  You can never win an argument with them.  They know what you’re going to say before you say it.  Imagine if your parents are that way.  They are right every single time.  If someone is right all the time then there are times when you will be wrong.  You cannot say that, “I am never wrong” in front of them because they know that they are right.  God is right all the time.  He is the Righteous Father.  We are supposed to seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.  So there has to come to be a point where we admit that we are wrong, or that what we did is wrong.  That doesn’t change who we are.  We are still God’s children, but we have to admit that whatever we are thinking, or doing is wrong.  We must be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

Some people believe that once you accept Jesus then you can still be the same.  Imagine a scenario of a rich loving King who finds a poor homeless uneducated woman (much like My Fair Lady and Eliza DoLittle)  who is depressed dejected, impoverished, and nothing to her and she is involved in all kinds  of licentious or sinful living, and then he takes her and shows her his wealth and showers her with love and affection, and she loves him with all her heart, then once they are married she cannot go on living like a beggar, she has to take on the role of a queen.  She has to put down her old ways and become a new person.  She has to make an effort to change.  His love will nurture her into health and teach her the way she should go, but there is a process from becoming a beggar to becoming a queen.  It is not just her clothes that have to change, but it is her language, it is her character and a transforming work on the inside from leaving the past behind and taking on her new identity as the queen.   It is not an overnight thing, it is a process.  Queen Esther had to go through 12 months of purification treatments so that she could win favor with the king.  If she really loves him, and not his riches or his wealth and everything that he has given her, she will make every effort to change because she loves him and wants to be with him.

The same way God is jealous for his bride.  He wants to see her enter into beauty and perfection.  Yes she has already inherited the throne, and that is hers, but she cannot continue to live the way she did before.  She cannot be spiteful and mean and catty.  She has to be kind, generous, loving, and pour out her heart to the people.  She has to give of herself, and she has to love with her heart.

The Word of God is Truth to every one that finds it and the Word of God is exalted above his name.  Whoever believes in the Word of God, and actually takes time to meditate on it, they will be prepared when the bridegroom comes.  There are many ways of looking at the Bible and the Word of God, but when you take a look at it don’t just get stuck in one a color lense.  God is technicolor and just like God gave Joseph a coat with many colors, He can give you a lense of perspective into His Word with many colors, so that you can see who He is.  Once you have truly began to see with clear eyes this Word of God, then your life will begin to change.  Try one time to read through the whole Bible to read through the eyes of Justice.  I am still trying to do that myself, but every time I turn to the Word, I see something I’ve never seen before.  We must never become familiar with the Word.  Also there is a point in time where we have to dig our own wells and actually take the time to read and study the Word.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that You give us more insight into the Word, and let Your Word become the light upon our feet from Genesis to Revelation let it bring insight into the Truth of who You are and let us have revelation of You that will really change and transform our lives so that we can become like you being whole and complete and conform to Your will and purpose for our lives.  Thank You Lord God that You do hear and listen to our prayers.  Thank You for Your manifest wisdom upon this Bride of Christ and the Church.  I seal this post with the Blood of Jesus and let what glorifies You be seen and let it transform hearts, break burdens, and show people the love that You have for them, so that they may know You and all of Your wisdom, because Your Word is Truth.  I pray for all Your precious saints, that not only know they are saints, but they become holy like You are holy too.

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.