Friday, April 04, 2014

Jonah Challenge day 4 of 4 4-4-14

This is the final day of the Jonah challenge, I admit it wasn't what I expected it to be but has enlightened me a little more into how God works.
Next week I'm thinking I'm going to start the lesson "making your faith public" it is another short daily devotional and is only 7 days long.. I think its something that we all as Christians should do but most of us are not doing it... so feel free to come back and follow along as we take that journey too ~B

Jonah as angry at the Lord's mercy but forgot that it was the same mercy that prevented the fish from having him for dinner!

Jonah was basically saying to God, "Look, I knew you were going to have mercy anyway, that’s why I didn’t want to go! You’re too compassionate." Jonah saw his mission as pointless & futile, but God didn’t!

I see and understand Jonah’s perspective, especially from the position of getting annoyed when people abuse the ‘grace’ of God. But it’s not for us to get annoyed. Moreover, our annoyance should not infringe on our obedience to God’s instruction.

Yes people abuse God’s grace…but I will still tell everyone about it! Because someone will be saved!

Jonah was so dramatic…was it really that deep? Verse 3-4 made me chuckle. How can Jonah request to die!!! I imagine God saying to Jonah in today’s slang ‘is it really that deep?’

God’s grace transcends our human understanding.

I love the way the message bible puts verse 4-11. God is saying to Jonah and to us; don’t get angry at what you didn’t work for! Jonah didn’t look at after plant, didn’t see it through its early days, and consequently allowed it to die. God used the plant to describe the city of Nineveh. He is saying that he wants to see that plant grow, live and not die.

This chapter is a real wake up call to ‘Christians’ who consider other people unworthy of God’s grace. Please look back and remember the ‘amazing grace’ that saved YOU. Rejoice when people turn to God, because it means you have gained another sibling in the Lord.

Be careful not to look down from a position of pride. Be careful not to be ‘selfish’ with your ‘saved’ status. WE desire for ALL to be saved!

God didn’t even have to explain himself to Jonah, but he did! He wants us all to understand his grace. God is sovereign in any decision He makes, He can ‘relent’ if it pleases Him to do.


7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  - Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” - Jonah 4:1-11 (NIV)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Jonah Challenge day 3 of 4 4-3-14

"Actions speak louder…Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14). The people of Nineveh ‘believed’ God (verse 5), but that belief wasn’t enough. The KING of this great city fasted and used his authority to instruct everyone in the land to fast, call out to God, and put on sackcloths. They humbled themselves before God, physically showing their repentance.

God’s grace existed in the Old Testament. Contrary to popular belief and lack of studying the Bible, we can see that God’s grace & mercy existed in the Old Testament! Grace is unmerited favour. Favour is receiving something you did not work for. Mercy is the withholding of what you do deserve! God’s mercy is evident in this chapter.

Your obedience can save a nation. Repentance can save a nation.

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:13-14 NKJV)

And how shall they hear without a preacher? How will people hear about God if you do not tell them? How will people hear about God if we don’t support our missionaries & evangelists? How will people hear about God and be saved if you don’t grow in the faith, obey God and speak up?

See how a city was saved because Jonah finally heeded to God’s instruction. If he really resisted…the blood of the city would be on his hands, he would be held accountable. The people of Ninevah would have perished for lack of knowledge! But thank God that wasn’t the case.

Understand that the things God tells us to do, the thing He considers to be our purpose has a greater impact. Purpose isn’t just for you! It’s for others to benefit from. You accomplishing your purpose is you being a point of provision for someone in ‘need’! You accomplishing your purpose and divine assignment is allowing someone to hear God’s word and get a chance to be saved! This was the case with Jonah, and it is the same for us. Our obedience to God is so key. If you don’t want to obey God for yourself, please at least obey Him for the people that will benefit from your obedience.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  - James 2:14 (NIV)

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? - Romans 10:10-14 (NIV)

1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:“By the decree of the king and his nobles:Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. - Jonah 3:1-10 (NIV)

Jonah Challenge day 2 of 4 4-2-14

Sorry I didn't get this out this morning like I originally wanted to, I fell behind due to work this morning and simply forgot.

"My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees." (Psalm 119:71, NLT).

Afflictions and storms cause us to be totally dependent on the only ANCHOR that can fight waves – GOD. There is a beautiful Hillsong Song called 'Cornerstone' and in one of the verses the lyrics are ‘My anchor holds within the veil’. This is the hope that every Believer has, that no matter the storm, our Anchor being God, will hold!

Have Faith In The Prayers Made During Storm

Jonah had faith that God heard his prayer and delivered him from his situation! From verse 1-2, I deduce that he believed his prayer was answered before he was ‘actually’ delivered. We need this type of faith, storm or no storm! We need to believe that God hears our prayers and will answer according to His sovereign will! Remember Jonah spent 3 days in that fish! Most of us would have given up after day one. Jonah persevered, seeking God’s answer, turning His heart to God’s temple and we should too!

The Weeds Of The Mind And The Importance Of FELLOWSHIP

Jonah said the weeds entangled his head. This intrigued me. Head=mind… Looking at the features of weeds: They are annoying plants, if you have a garden you’d know. Weeds are skilled in growing anywhere and everywhere that weed killer does not exist! Weeds grow aggressively!

Those weeds are the negative maladaptive thoughts, cognitions that grow in the absence of the weed killer – The Word of God (John 1:1), God, Fellowship etc.

"God’s Word is a sword, ‘shank’ every thought that is impure" as Jahaziel’s song says. Take captive every thought, don’t allow it to grow! Fellowship is so important. Lack of fellowship with others leaves you vulnerable on a spiritual level! The mathematics of the Bible shows how important fellowship is!

When Jesus started his ministry, what did he do? He found himself disciples, varying in kind and occupation! 12 to be precise.

When God created the world, who was with him? The Holy Spirit, the counselor, WISDOM.
Adam was given to Eve.
Need I say more…FELLOWSHIP is key! The List of Examples are endless

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1 (NIV)

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.  - Psalm 119:77 (NIV)

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” 10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. - Jonah 2:1-10 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Jonah Challenge day 1 of 4 4-1-14

Jonah was a prophet to northern Israel, their enemies were the gentile nation of Assyria ‘Nineveh’ the great city and Jonah was given the unusual instruction from the Lord to preach to that city calling them to repentance. Here we see one of the first displays of God’s desire to see all nations saved and how He would do so through Israel!

We don’t know how Jonah received this word from God, whether it was verbal, in a dream or vision, writing on a wall or through another prophet, but Jonah didn’t respond with words, he just ran. Rebelled against God’s command.

Down is never good when God is up! Notice that verse 3-4 says that Jonah went ‘down’ to Tarshish and ‘down’ to Joppa (which means beautiful- its actually our modern day Tel Aviv). Eventually he ended up down in the belly of a whale, which Jonah himself describes as ‘sheol’ which is another name for hell.

Are you desensitized to the product of your disobedience? While the storm is going on Jonah was sleeping (Jonah 1:5). I imagine this is like sleeping during turbulence on a plane. What this shows is Jonah’s ignorance and desensitization to his disobedience. A trap many of us fall into! We sleep when we need to wake up and change. OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE!! OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN ENDING UP IN A WHALE! 1 SAMUEL 15:22

Don’t deny God in the midst of your storm. In verse 9 we read Jonah’s first words, he states his identity and who he believes in, even in the midst of the storm… what can we learn from that? Even in our mess, don’t deny the God that you serve. For this is the one reason why in verse 16 we see that these men who served other gods now feared the Lord God Almighty and made sacrifices & vows unto Him. Without Jonah’s declaration, they wouldn’t have known.

Jonah took responsibility for his disobedience (Jonah 1:12). In psychology there is something we call ‘Diffusion of Responsibility’ where everybody shares in the blame or the glory of a situation. There was none of that there because Jonah stepped forward and said cast me out for the sea to calm down. Very noble, as I know some would have liked to have company in that big whale and therefore drag people down in their plight.

Jonah 1 NIV
1The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
4Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
5All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
6The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
7Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
8So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
11The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
14Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.”
15Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
16At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Jonah’s Prayer

17Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

1 Sam 22:15 NIV
15 Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.”

Another bible study.. 4-1-14

After the the response I received from the last bible study series I did last year, I have decided to do another... I know I felt better about my faith after posting each study day and am encouraging you to join me again in another walk to get closer to God the Father.. this time we will be doing the Jonah Challege which is only 4 days long this time. Here's some about it from the creator of this study.

This is a 4 day challenge to read the 4 chapters in the book of Jonah, which focuses on our attitudes towards God, disobedience and God’s mercy. Bible challenges go beyond reading; as we share our understanding with each other, so as you read, hash tag #JonahChallenge via twitter to share your points. Bible Challenge MOTTO: The Bible is JUICY. The Bible is LIFE. The Bible is for YOU