Monday, February 1, 2010

Caught in the belly of a whale

Good morning Leadership?
What has God asked you to do recently that you just don’t want to do or even feel equipped to do? Is your attitude been like that of Jonah? God had a burden for the people of Nineveh and asked Jonah to go. Jonah thought that these people were undeserving and should die. He just did not want to go and teach a distasteful message to a distasteful people. In the beginning of Jonah did you ever count how many times the word “ down” was used? He thought if he kept a comfortable distance between himself and God, he wouldn’t have to do it. He certainly did not want to obey nor did he fear God. He did not realize there would be consequences for his disobedience and rebellion. He did not see that God’s will - will be done. He failed to see that God is sovereign. God begins to show him his sovereignty. He boards a ship and goes to the lower deck. God calls the waves and the storm and they respond to him. Jonah’s sin had consequences for the sailors. They began to frantically pray to their gods and went and got Jonah up and begged him to pray to his God. They decided to cast lots --if you look at that from a logical view point today -- what were the odds Jonah would have been chosen? God is sovereign over the casting of the lots. Can you image the terror on their faces to know that Jonah was the cause and them wondering what horrible thing he had done to anger his God? Jonah asked them to throw him over board -- these men did everything to save his life, even though Jonah had caused them this distress. What a contrast -- these men did not know him yet they did not want to see him die. They feared Jonah’s God and made sacrifices to him and made vows to him. They knew they would have to toss Jonah overboard.
The large fish -- God is sovereign over his creatures. While in the belly of the whale, Jonah prays. He isn’t asking for forgiveness, he is asking to be delivered. Wasn’t that what God wanted for the people of Nineveh? Are we like that sometimes? We want to be delivered from what we do, but we do not pray for the people who do wicked in the sight of the Lord and who are hurtful to us. We want it for us - but not for them? How quickly Jonah had forgotten how the Nation of Israel had done evil and turned their backs on the one true God. Weren’t they undeserving? Aren’t we to love everyone as we love ourselves? Doesn’t love mean forgiving? How quickly we forget the mercy, grace, forgiveness and not receiving what we deserve from God. If Jonah had realized this, would his attitude be different? He does go and half heartedly gives the message that God told him to give them.
Do you put your all into all that God has called you to do -- or is it done half heartedly? Instead of being happy that these people would not perish, he went outside of the city and waited to see ( still hoping ) that God would destroy them. He failed to see the sovereignty of God -- he was able to save the people of Nineveh --showing Jonah that the most unpromising mission fields are often the most responsive. How much do you care for the “sandpaper” people in your life? Can you love them without prejudice, could you and would you go and give them a message if God asked you to go? Do you have a burden for the “ lost” people of the world. Aren’t we to go and preach to everyone? Or do you go and pout and stay angry like Jonah did because someone who you thought was undeserving received the same grace that you did? At the end of the chapter, Jonah still does not get it. He isn’t praying for Nineveh or he is not even praying for himself. It seems like the story ends there. It ends with him wallowing in dejection and self pity, not having a change of heart or getting back into his ministry. God asks him a poignant question, “ Should I not be concerned about those people and that city?” Isn’t God concerned about each and everyone of us?
Gracious Father: you are patient and determined. You could have let Jonah die and find someone else to do what you asked him to do, but you still found him to be a worthy vessel. Sometimes Lord we get uppity and see ourselves slightly better than others and more deserving. Forgive us when we act so prideful. We are all sinners saved by grace. When you say go, place that burning desire to do what you have asked us to do in our hearts--and not to look at whether or not we think it should be done or not. Cleanse our hearts. Never let us forget to extend your hand of mercy, speak words of forgiveness, and to always rejoice over all that come to you. Amen
As you walk on your journey this week: if God asks, consider it a privilege, do it with a spirit of love, and do not even consider your feelings in the matter. Don’t find yourself in a whale’s belly asking to be delivered because of your own “ stinkin thinkin.” Have a blessed week..
Janice E-Team, CR Fellowship Bible, NW Arkansas

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