Entries tagged with “Jonah”.


Why was Jonah willing to save the boat full of pagans, but not go to Ninevah?

That was a tangental question David threw out during last week’s sermon. He didn’t want to dig into it since it was really related to the overarching topic.  But was still a good point to ponder…

I e-mailed him a response over the weekend:

Something similar has been on my mind lately… especially regarding things like Darfur, Somalia, HIV/AIDS…

I think Jonah didn’t want to save those people over there, you know those foreigners.  Why would God want us to be uncomfortable to benefit someone besides ourselves?  Why should we care about Africa when we have problems here…

But once those foreigners became part of his life.  We don’t know for sure who was on the ship but I imagine that at least one of the sailors was a Nineveh-ite.  They had some shared experiences playing poker, dropping back some rum, you know hanging out.  Their relationships probably became stronger as the storm picked up.  Adversity tends to bring people together.

When Jonah and the sailors figured out what was happening he faced a few choices, do nothing and hope everyone lives, be pragmatic and realize that people are going to die, take a risk and jump overboard, get thrown overboard.  Jonah must have been a pretty decent fellow since God wanted him to prophesy on His behalf, so it seems Jonah was willing to do whatever it took to help is new buddies.  Plus if he died, he still wouldn’t preach to Nineveh!

I think once we’ve experienced Africa or know someone with HIV, it becomes real and personal.  You are more willing to act and take risks to help them.

Does that make sense? What do you think??

I would definitely, be interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions to that question in the comments.

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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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We don’t celebrate a traditional advent at The Bridge.  In the last three years that I’ve attended (and its existed) this has made for a different holiday season than I’m used to.  This week Chris’s message was excellent and Bono even paid a short visit!

I must say it was a little interesting using Jonah as the basis for the Christmas story, but it tied in very nicely. The main point of the message was that we should love people rather than judging or condemning them.

Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites and knew deep down that if he presented the message of salvation to them that they would probably be saved.  This happened in Jonah 3:10 “… He [God] had compassion…” Jonah’s plea in Jonah 4:2 is almost funny but sad,  Jonah was so angry about God’s compassion for the heathen! “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

God does not want His people walking around the earth holding His love inside their hearts or in some niche group and condemning everyone else.  Look what happened to Jonah when he tried.  Matthew 5:43 commands us to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us.  That definitely isn’t an easy task and it should be done in a healthy and Spirit-filled way.

Finally from Hosea 6:6 we learn what God wants from us:

I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

Rather than focusing our energy and time on hatred and condemnation, God calls us to be a people of mercy and compassion. (excerpted from this week’s discussion guide)

Application

Chris made a point at the beginning to say that we are often more charitable this time of year, than during the other 11 months.  He clarified that God wants us to live with love 24/7 all year long.

Make a list of people or situations that you need to let go of and focus more on loving those people instead of harboring ill feelings or judgement. Pray for God to help you to do this.

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