Friday, July 06, 2012

July 6, 2012 … Running From God’s Purpose

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Jonah, Chapters 1-4 [NIV] To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Jonah 1: 1-4 :[NIV] … 1 The 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." 3 But 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. 4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 12: 38-39 : … 38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish; so, the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 

My Journal for Today: Well, in my chronological Bible reading, since I’ve been reading about some of the Kings in Israel and Judah in about 790BC, today my reading plan assigned me to read and meditate on the entire book of Jonah, one of God’s prophets at the time of King Jeroboam II in Israel and Uzziah (i.e., Azariah) in Judah. And reading through the historical narrative about this so-called “minor prophet,” there are many life lessons and spiritual applications which could come out of this book. Jesus, as I’ve copied above in Matthew 12, even used the story and the sign of Jonah to prophesy His being buried for three days before being spit forth by God from the ground to live again.

But today, I don’t need to go further than the first four verses of this book about Jonah to get a very pertinent life lesson – at least for myself. So, if you’re reading along with me here, let me ask you: “Have you ever been in a place in your Christian discipleship where you knew exactly where God wanted you to go or what to do; and instead, you resisted (at best) or [at worst] you simply bolted and ran the other way?” Aw, common! I’ll bet someone here has that t-shirt besides myself.

Jonah, who was a prophetic contemporary of Joel and Micah, also living in the times of Elisha, knew that he was a chosen prophet of God; and he had received his marching orders directly from the Lord – i.e., to go to probably the most hated and evil, God-hating peoples of the day (for the Israelites), the Assyrians, more specifically to their capital of Nineveh. That would be like God calling out someone today to be a Christian missionary to Iran or North Korea. The Ninevites were evil, godless people; and they were feared and hated by those in Israel in the days of Jonah.

Now, of course, having read the book of Jonah, you know the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say it. Jonah bolted on a ship headed west; and in doing so – that is, running away from God’s purpose for his life – Jonah put a lot of other folks in danger (i.e., the crew of the ship). And that’s a lesson we all need to remember. When God calls us, and we know it’s His calling and purpose, we very well could put others in jeopardy if we resist His calling and run toward the self-driven ways in our life.

Anybody else feeling a little bit of conviction at this point?

 For years in my life, I knew that being involved in selfish, sexual sin as well as into gluttonous eating habits were wrong. And after my conversion to Christ, I certainly knew these strongholds of sinful behavior were not God’s purpose for my life. But I continued to pursue those inward directions for my life. However, just like with Jonah, God had different plans for me; and the Lord gobbled me up in His own “big fish;” and then He spit me out in the face of the death of my family, my career, and even my physical well-being; and He took me where He had planned for me to serve Him.

And here I am today, having been delivered, by God’s mercy, from the mouth of my enormous big fish, which was my former denial of Christ and my obsessive/destructive lifestyle, to be able to serve the Lord in the direction and for the purposes He had set out for my life. And just like Jonah, all those years, when I was running from God’s purpose, I put many others in danger. My sexual sin put my marriage and family in jeopardy. My gluttony, and the resulting obesity, led me to contract type 2 diabetes, which put me in serious physical jeopardy.

The lesson today is pretty transparent, isn’t it? When we know where God wants us to go, the ONLY way to go is God’s way; and running and hiding from His purposes will only lead to emotional, spiritual, and maybe even physical pain or anguish. And having been mercifully delivered from the mouth of that big fish, I’m here to be a loud witness to this life lesson today.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me to stay tuned in to Your calling and to follow it faithfully. Amen

No comments: