August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm 84:1-2
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He told them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship God, the God of heaven who made sea and land.”
At that, the men were frightened, really frightened, and said, “What on earth have you done!” As Jonah talked, the sailors realized that he was running away from God.
Oh, Jonah. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah.
I find this passage so interesting. The sailors on this ship were pagan. They did not believe in the God of Abraham. These sailors worshiped many gods. Gods of the water, gods of the land, gods of who knows what.
Yet, here is Jonah, on this ship running away from the One True God. Storms are swirling around him, God's power is being manifested right before Jonah's very eyes, yet he still runs.
In fact, the pagan sailors even ask Jonah how to make the sea calm down. They are desperate for somebody or something to stop this storm!
Here is Jonah, a prophet of the Lord, running away from the God He has faithfully served.
Oh, y'all, can you relate to Jonah's journey at all?
I wish I could say that I couldn't, but I do. Strikingly so.
I love to serve God when it's convenient. I love to serve God when it boosts my ego a bit. I love to serve God when others see the work He is doing, and the blessings He is pouring out.
I love to serve God when it works for me.
Yet, there are times when God asks me to do something that makes my flesh cringe. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me angry sometimes, if I am gut-honest.
I don't like to be uncomfortable. I don't like messy. I don't like to do something that I don't see any justice in doing.
I like to love. I like to serve. I like to give. Yet, I like them on my terms. To the people I choose.
Y'all have NO idea how much God is revealing to me this very moment as I type. Y'all have no idea how much I need to get this lesson, and truly live it out. It's hard.
Jonah didn't want to preach to the people in Ninevah. They were not "his people". They were undeserving. They were filthy wicked sinners.
Which is exactly why God asked Jonah to go to them. To show them truth. To show them love. To help them. To help turn them away from their wickedness, and turn to the One True God.
God desired to show the people of Ninevah His Grace.
Jonah wasn't in agreement.
So, Jonah ran.
And, it cost him much trouble.
Our Fun Friday Challenge:
Who is God asking you to show unconditional love and grace to today? Friends, if you have a heartbeat, there is at least one person.
You know, the one person that makes you cringe, that makes you wish your paths had never crossed, who you find yourself making a sour face just thinking about them. The one person that makes it unnatural and uncomfortable to show or even think thoughts of Grace and Love.
Yeah, that person.
Quit running from opportunities to show them Grace. Even if it's not a physical act of Grace, but just the grace that comes from your heart. Grace that washes over those unkind thoughts about them. Grace that washes those thoughts right out of your heart, and ushers in a peace you have never known.
"Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about." Philippians 4:8
There is not a day that goes by, not one, that I don't have to say this verse. I have to continually sear these words into my heart and mind, because my flesh wants to fight them tooth and nail.
When those ugly thoughts come, say that verse Over and over, and over. It works. Trust me on this one.
"But 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." Luke 6:35