Monday, May 25, 2015

The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away, Jonah Week 2

Suburban Stereotype, Jonah, The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away

Last week we discussed that God called Jonah to go preach to the Ninevites because the Ninevites' "wickedness has come up before [God]" (Jonah 1:2).

We also discussed how Jonah jumped a ship and took the FIRST ticket out of town--to the farthest point on the map from the destination God wanted him to take.

In fact, if you're just joining us, please refer to THIS POST to get caught up.

Chapter Two opens with Jonah in the middle of a gut-wrenching prayer from inside the belly of the whale. {I find that poetic.}

Look at verse 3:
"You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me, all your waves and breakers swept over me."
First of all, if we recall, it wasn't God who "hurled" Jonah into the deep. It was due to his own disobedience and the fact that he was endangering innocent people's lives that he was thrown into the ocean--at his own suggestion, I might add.

But aside from you were reading his heart-felt, pleading words to the Lord, did any of it resonate with you? Did it ring a bell? Have you ever found yourself in a mess, "drowning" as your mistakes and LIFE piled on top of you, like waves in the ocean? Have you ever gasped for breath and begged God to save you? Has life ever pulled you under like seaweed wrapped around your head (v 5)?

I have.

Whether it's of our own doing or a path we traveled down inadvertently, but later regretted, the desperation is overwhelming.

The desperation in Jonah's prayer is palpable.

And then verse 7 cuts to the chase:

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

When the going gets tough and we realize the folly of our ways, that's when we tend to cling to God. No matter how we may fight Him tooth and nail, when we find ourselves in over our heads, we know who we can turn to: The Only One who has the power to save us.

At this point of the book of Jonah, his prayer comes after being tossed about in the ocean and then swallowed by a fish. This prayer is when he realizes he's safe from the immediate threat of the ocean, but not quite free from harm. He has no idea what's happening at this point, but he has some time to catch his breath and think things through.

Do you know that place? Are you there now?

Are you on the right path, but still not quite sure how things are going to shake out?

Jonah found himself in the dark and relying completely on God's grace to rescue him. He knew God meant business. Jonah had two options: Commit to God's calling to go preach to the Ninevites or lose his life.

Verse 9 shows a new mindset within Jonah:
"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good, Salvation comes from the Lord."
And there we have it: Jonah had vowed to the Lord and was trying to renege. Obviously, the Lord doesn't take kindly to renegging. {As an aside, feel free to check out a devotional I wrote today on Deliberate Women about being fully committed HERE.}

Also...and this is a sidenote but my mind was BLOWN by this so maybe yours will be as well:

Look at verse 9 closely. See this portion:
"Salvation comes from the Lord." 
"Salvation" in the original Greek meant this:  יְשׁוּעָה yeshuw`ah

Do you see what I see? Yeshua!

Yeshua = Jesus! (You can read an article HERE that talks about how yeshua = Joshua = Jesus.)

How amazing that 750+ years before Jesus was even born, Jonah NAMED Him as our Salvation! Praise God! His Word never ceases to amaze me!

And just as Jonah acknowledged the crux of our entire relationship with the Lord:
"And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry ground."
That's where chapter 2 leaves us. Jonah did some soul searching and came to the conclusion that God, and God alone, can save him. He realized that he should have honored his vow to the Lord all along.

So let's take a moment to ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Have you ever found yourself in the pit and prayed to the Lord from the very depths of your soul?
  2. Has God ever used extraordinary measures to reach you? If yes, did you recognize it as God at the time?
  3. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you were out of the pit, but not yet where you needed to be?

Feel free to write down any thoughts that came to mind in the "Notes" section of your FREE PDF download, which you can find HERE.

Let me know what you're learning! Feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page! Too shy to comment? Please email me HERE. I would LOVE to know how God is speaking to you through the book of  Jonah.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When You're 18 and You Suffer a Miscarriage...All Alone.

This is a post in the Grieving Well With Jesus Series at Community Moms. This is my story...

Suburban Stereotype, Miscarriage, Teen Pregnancy

I imagine a girl. 

I picture strawberry blonde curls bouncing off small, rounded shoulders and a dimpled smile that lights up a room.

I envision a smattering of freckles dancing across cheeks the color of buttercream.

Sadly, all I have is my imagination. I never had the opportunity to hold my baby or to breathe in deeply the sweet scent of a child. I miscarried at 12 weeks.

The summer I turned eighteen I found out I was pregnant. I had just graduated from high school and was preparing to leave for college at the end of August. My future was wide open and I had lofty plans.

Not part of my plans? A baby.

I was a child myself and had no idea how I would be a mother. I vacillated between terrified and in shock. It all felt surreal.

Once the miscarriage began, see the rest of the story HERE

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away, Jonah Week 1

We sang songs as kids about it.

Bible scholars and critics alone have argued over whether it was a literal whale or simply a metaphor for a greater truth.

Sunday school classes talk about it with great fanfare and flourishes.

But have we ever really read and contemplated what the book of Jonah is all about?

The book of Jonah in the Bible opens with a bang:
"The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.'" Jonah 1:1-2
The Lord was direct with what He wanted Jonah to do and why. 

Verse three tells us Jonah's response, and while it isn't what God wants, it's probably how most of us would respond if we're totally honest with ourselves.
"But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish." 
Tarshish, the commentary in my Bible tells me, was the absolute farthest point, and the complete opposite direction, from Nineveh,

Jonah was on the run!

I found myself wondering at this point, "Why was he disobeying God? What would make him run away...literally?"  

{If you want a sneak peek about why, glance at Jonah 4:2...but then come right back!}

So, Jonah jumped on a ship and set sail. The sailing wasn't so smooth, though. It wasn't long before the ship was tossed upon the waves. The crew was terrified and began throwing cargo over the side in an effort to keep the ship from sinking. In their panic, the crew discovered Jonah, below deck...sound asleep.

The crew demanded to know who he was and what he did to land them all in the center of a violent storm.

I find a few things interesting here:

1. Jonah is "in a deep sleep" even though the ship and crew around him are being violently tossed about. {Are you kidding me? He was able to close his eyes to God's directive and close his eyes to the chaos all around him-that he caused-mind you.}


2. Verse 10 gives a little nugget of info in that Jonah was open with the crew about being on the run from God. {Not only was he directly disobeying an order from God, but he made no attempt to hide it.}

What the crew didn't understand was that Jonah was on the run from THE God...the Hebrew God "the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land" (verse 11).

As the sea continued raging, getting worse as time went on, the crew begged Jonah to tell them how to make the storm stop. Jonah told them to "throw [him] into the sea."

Don't you think it's intriguing that the crew members didn't want to do that? Even though they feared for their own lives, they didn't want to harm Jonah...even though he'd suggested that very thing!

Side note: Sometimes I'm astounded by the level of compassion shown by those who don't have a relationship with Christ. While they didn't follow God's ways, they still had a code of conduct that precluded them from harming an innocent man. In the end, however, their code of conduct came second to their desire for self-preservation.

Instead, the men of the ship did their best to right the ship without harming Jonah. When it became clear that the storm wasn't going away and they weren't going to wrestle control, they begrudgingly did as Jonah had suggested:
"Then they cried to the Lord, 'O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord have done as you pleased.' Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm." Jonah 1:14-15
I just had a light bulb moment as I realized that even though Jonah knew what was going to calm the storm, and he knew he was endangering every life on board the ship because of his disobedience to God, he wasn't willing to throw himself overboard. He required the men to do the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively. Whether he was being belligerent or was too terrified to act on what he knew was right isn't spelled out in the scriptures.

How many times have I known darn well I was disobeying, knew what needed to be done, knew I was dragging others down with me, knew I was being a horrible testimony in that moment, and still wasn't willing to change my ways? I've been so deep into my sin and so blatant in my disobedience that I was on a crash course that I couldn't or didn't want to veer off of.

Yes. That's fresh conviction you smell.

Those men believed they were sentencing Jonah to a death sentence by throwing him overboard. They regretted doing it, and actually begged the Lord not to hold them accountable.

But God had other plans.

"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three nights." Jonah 1:17

Ask we think about chapter one, let's ask ourselves these questions (also found in the FREE PDF Download you can get HERE.)

1.What does the description of Nineveh make you think of in our modern-day culture?

2. Have you ever run away from God's calling? Literally or figuratively? Did it work?

3. Like those on the ship with Jonah, have you ever considered that running away from the Lord could affect others?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FREE Jonah Study starts Monday!

I am SO excited! The first EVER Bible study hosted on my blog! Woo Hoo!

Who's bringing cake? Who's bringing chips & salsa? Who's bringing the raspberry iced tea?

Have you downloaded your FREE study Guide yet?

Have you subscribed to the blog so you don't miss a post? 

{Would you like a pre-printed and bound study guide mailed to you? Email me HERE. It's $5.}

Here's a little video to get started. Can't WAIT to see you all Monday (May 18, 2015)!

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