Tag Archives: Forgiveness

FOREVER JONAH: I WOULD RATHER DIE

the-trouble-with-jonah

This is my weekly reflection and thoughts on the Lent study from #SheSharesTruth : Jonah 1 & 2.

While reading the first two chapters I couldn’t help but think about the fact that God continuously calls the least likely people to carry out some of His toughest assignments. Jonah is commissioned to bring God’s message of warning and repentance to the people of Nineveh instead, he engages in absurd avoidance.

-He decides to run away from God by finding a way to get to Tarshish

-He goes into the hold of the ship to have a nap while the others are throwing cargo overboard in hopes of saving themselves

-He allows the men to cast lots instead of immediately admitting to them that he is the cause of the storm at the hands of God

Ocean Storm Boat

Thankfully the writer of Jonah knows the power of exaggeration. The story seems silly and completely unrealistic, but the author knows that our attempts at avoiding God’s commands and the uncomfortable things in life are sometimes absurd.  In hindsight, sometimes they are as comedic as these two chapters.

A more serious topic from the first chapter is the most extreme measure that Jonah is willing to take in order to avoid God. In 1:2, Jonah tells the men to throw him into the turbulent sea. Jonah would rather die than cry out to God and say, “O.K. God, I get it, I will go to Nineveh, prophecy to the people and give them a chance to hear your words and repent in order to be saved!” He could have done that and the crashing waves might have stopped at once, saving the lives of everyone on board and those of Nineveh. Instead, Jonah chooses the most selfish option which is to ask the men to let him die.

Dead men don’t have to serve God

Jonah is so against the idea of bringing the good news of repentance and salvation to a group of foreigners that he would rather die! The non-Hebrews on board are more afraid of a God they do not worship than Jonah is. These men hesitated at having to take Jonah’s life while he didn’t give a second thought at dying.

The comedy continues with Jonah being swallowed by a very large fish. Even in the belly of this sea creature he realises after three days and three nights that he can’t escape God. Jonah offers a psalm of thanksgiving to God and is vomited (spew means to vomit) out of the fish. I’m sure the big fish felt much better after getting rid of Jonah!

It’s easy for us to say that we don’t want to be like Jonah, but most likely we are. Here are problems with Jonah’s actions and behaviours:

-He says he worships God, however, he does not obey God

-He does not care to bring to the message of repentance and salvation to people he considers “others”

-He would rather die an honourless and selfish death instead of dying for God

-He engages in constant avoidance of reality

-He is selfish and doesn’t care about others (the other men on the boat, the people of Nineveh)

QUESTION:

Are there honourless (worthless) things that you would die for?

Are there people who you dislike or view as being unworthy of God’s message of salvation?

What are your usual habits and tactics when God calls you to do something you are uncomfortable with?

APPLICATION:

Pray about the answers that you provided for the three questions above. Ask God to continue to soften your heart and grow in his strength.

Take time to think about this past week. Ask God for clarity in revealing any instances where you were avoiding being loving, kind, or caring towards “others”.

Hoping that your second week of Lent has been a blessing of personal growth and drawing closer to God. Let’s not be like Jonah, let us run towards, not away from God. We can’t escape from God, and how awesome is it that we can’t escape His love and forgiveness either! AMEN to that!

Psalm 130: Let Us Be Watchmen

 

Watchmen's tower
Watchmen’s tower

The Watchman

Psalm 130 Reflection

Based on a great writing and reflection challenge from the ladies behind the blog ministry #SheSharesTruth. I decided to write a reflection on this bible passage because it captures an important theme for Lent; that of being aware of our sins and our desperate need for our forgiving and redeeming God. It also highlights the often missed message that tells us that individual sins eventually becomes, one-by-one, a community’s sin.

I could not read Psalm 130 without looking at Ezekiel 33 “The Watchman’s Duty”. God makes it clear that we are to listen to His voice and follow His teachings. Being obedient to God is not only for the good of the individual, but it is necessary for the entire community.

The Psalmist feels as if he is in the midst of chaotic waters, there is unsteadiness, no firm foundation. But he knows that he can cry out to our God who always hears us, why, because God doesn’t keep score of our sinfulness. If God kept a running tally of our wrongs, there would be no one left to worship Him. God would be left with confused, lost and hopeless believers roaming the earth.

God is a god of relationship, He wants to maintain that loving connection with His creation. In our repeated pleas for His help, His guidance, His love, His forgiveness, His acknowledgement of our existence; we maintain and build our relationship with Him. The psalmist tells us that he waits-waits-waits for the Lord and this is his hope: that God will not only forgive him and his community, but that they will receive redemption. He wants to be forgiven and SAVED from sin!

Webster’s says forgiveness is “the act of ceasing anger or blame towards someone”, it is also, “the act of releasing someone from a debt that is owed to another”.  The Psalmist, our watchman tells us we can hope in the Lord because it is He who is the one to redeem us (to release from distress, harm or captivity). What does God’s love do: it ceases to blame; it ceases to hold anger towards someone; and it releases a person from being in debt to Him for this very forgiveness. Why can we put our hope in God and His forgiveness, because, He is the one that redeems (release from distress, harm or captivity).

During Lent we focus on our own individual areas of sin and offer to reduce or forgo various things that distract us from His word; those very words that remind us of our sinful ways and teach us how to live justly in a world filled with broken individuals and communities who are caught in the chaotic, unsteadiness of the “depths”. The watchmen are our fellow believers and leaders who are on solid ground, they look out for us, warn us when there is danger ahead, they pray for us, waiting-waiting-waiting on the Lord to answer their prayers for those who are lost or have abandoned their love for the Lord and His teachings.

QUESTION:

Are you a watchman? Are you actively praying on behalf of others who have lost their faith and trust in the Lord? Have you lost hope in praying for someone to be saved or someone who doesn’t seem likely to ever return to their relationship with God?

APPLICATION:

If there is someone who you have stopped being a “watchman” for, be encouraged in waiting, waiting, waiting on the Lord with a hope filled heart! Be a watchman who watches and waits by praying for those who have abandoned the Lord. God does not give up and neither should we, the watchman! night prayer

 

Advent Day 19: He Never Tires of Forgiving Us

Joy 4

Luke 15:1-10

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

 Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I don’t know about you, but I often get tired of praying to God for help in controlling areas of habitual sin in my life. How many years have I been praying to be more patient? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask God to help me control my tongue. l started to wonder if God is as frustrated with me as I am with my unresolved sinful patterns. After reading the following excerpt from Pope Francis’ Joy of the Gospel via Catholic Online, I felt a sense of peace and renewed hope, and unbelievably I felt joy. It was reassuring to know that God is always there for us with open arms to welcome us as we continuously, sometimes even daily ask Him to help us with sinful habits. We only need to approach Him with empty hands and an open heart; He will never reject us. God reassures us that He is here for us always and rejoices in doing so. I don’t know about you, but knowing this brings me joy. I take joy in knowing that having to depend on God daily for the control of my worst habits are something He delights in; He has joy in being there to meet our needs.

Words of encouragement from Pope Francis…

“3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. 

Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. 

Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!…”  Source: http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=53319