For the past few months we’ve been attending Seward Church, a new church.  It is both new to us and also new to the community.  It is a church made of some wonderful people and maybe I’ll go into that in more detail in a future post.  I finally remembered to bring a Bible with me, and a pen, but only a napkin for paper!

So throughout the service I scribbled on a little scrap of napkin.  David brought us a good message, throwing in a little VeggieTales to spice things up!!

The theme was appropriately about giving thanks and praising God despite your circumstances.  A lot of verses could have been used to support this theme, but a more obscure passage from Jonah was chosen: Jonah 1:17-2:10.

The whole sections is a song of Thanksgiving and I would urge you to look at it.  But here are the last 3 verses:

When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD

We received a good amount of background, which included a lot of good points! David described the Ninevehites as being the enemy of Israel – Jonah was being sent to the enemy to offer them a message of hope and salvation.  Are we taking the Gospel to our enemies? Jesus, in Luke 6:32-36 admonishes His followers to “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

We need to remember that without Christ we are no better than anyone else. We are just as susceptible to sin, legalism, selfish behavior, etc. The difference is that by accepting Christ we have become “Sons of the Most High.”

Back to Jonah – remember he tried to run away from God’s command to go to Nineveh.  He somehow thought he could outrun or hide from God.  Well even in the belly of the whale, God was in control.  But first think about being on that ship, when you realize that this Hebrew man is running away from God.  The pagan sailors knew that Jonah was a man of God and that he was running away from God.  Imagine their fear and confusion – I’m sure some wanted to kill him. If you know the story you know that Jonah freely offered to jump off the ship – with the hope that it would save all on board.

Looking at other Scriptures we realize that sometimes we all need to be disciplined for our actions (Hebrews 12:6) sometimes this is a little more dramatic than others – like being swallowed by a whale for 3 days! But at the same time we also realize that with God all things are possible and He is able to take us inside a whale for 3 days and have us spit back out on the beach (Mark 10:27). It is safe to imagine that Jonah’s plea was very similar to Habakkuk 1:2How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”

Yes, I think Jonah was afraid to speak Truth to his enemies, but while in the belly of a whale I’m sure anything looks better.  Isn’t that true though, in the middle of a crisis almost anything seems better than the current situation.  That job you hated looks better when you are hungry on the streets.  But God promises us in Psalm 50:15 that we should “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

God saved Jonah despite his guilt, in part to give him a thankful heart. We all should be thankful and rejoice even though we are a part of a wicked generation (Matthew 12:33-41) God wants to work and move in our midst.

Who is your Nineveh today?  Is there a person or group of people that you are afraid might here the good news? Is God calling you to something that seems a little crazy?

Today let us lay down our fear and trust God and remember that with Him, nothing is impossible!

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