A Case of Trying to Run from God

Jonah was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. He was a contemporary of another prophet also located in Israel by the name of Amos, who was preaching about the imminent invasion of the Assyrian army. This was a punishment sent by God because of Israel’s persistent rebellion against Him.

Imagine then, the consternation that Jonah felt when God told him to go to the city of Nineveh, the capitol of the Assyrian empire, to warn them of the dire consequences that would befall them if they did not turn from their evil ways. What great irony.

Jonah decides to disobey God by trying to run away from Him. (How do you do that?) He jumps on a boat heading away from Nineveh. God was not fooled. He whipped up a storm that threatened to destroy the boat and drown the crew. So, Jonah confesses to them that the storm was a consequence of his running from God; and in order to quell it, he must be thrown overboard. The crew was only too happy to oblige.

Immediately, the sea grew calm and the crew became instant converts. Meanwhile, Jonah is swallowed by a fish and spends three days and nights in its stomach. Impossible you say? You would be correct in claiming that there is no fish (or whale) that can swallow a man whole, much less have an inner environment that Jonah could have survived in. However:

Now the LORD had prepared (appointed, destined) a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jon.1:17 AMP

God prepared a fish. He is the Creator of all things; and He can re-create at will. Every word of God is true because He is truth. Jesus Himself attested to the accuracy of the scriptural account of Jonah. (Mt. 12:40)

While inside the fish, Jonah reconsiders and vows to obey God. Subsequently, God made the fish vomit Jonah onto the shores of Assyria, near the city of Nineveh. Jonah enters the city and delivers God’s message:

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jon. 3:4 NKJV

Straight and to the point. And to Jonah’s amazement (and regret), every Assyrian in the city repented, and God responded with mercy.

Jonah was angry because he had hoped that the Assyrians would remain unrepentant and that God would strike them down. Distraught, he asked God to take his life. God responds:

“Is it right for you to be angry?” Jon. 4:4 NKJV

Jonah leaves the city and watches from a distance. God makes a plant grow next to him to provide shade from the sun. However, the next morning God put a worm in the plant and it died – exposing Jonah to the heat of day. Jonah again asks for death.

God asks Jonah if it right to be angry about the plant. Jonah stays entrenched in his bitterness; and then God delivers the zinger:

Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” Jon. 4:10, 11. NASB

Can God make a case for love or what? God loves and values all people – not only those who practice a certain faith, those who live in a particular region, or those who are descended from a distinct gene pool.

He is continually reaching out, trying to get all people to understand the difference that the love of God can make in their lives. But they will never know that difference if they keep on running…

Goodnight and God bless.

Two-Sided Salvation – part 2

We were talking about the two states that we find ourselves in, with regards to salvation: the predicaments we can experience prior to salvation, versus the position that we hold after having been saved.

There are many obstacles that prevent us from reaching out for salvation. One may be ignorance, i.e. not having heard the gospel. All the other obstacles are things that we put upon ourselves.

Aside from sin, the most formidable of these is the practice of living in the past. When we occupy that timeframe, we subconsciously indulge our wounded child within, who, constantly begs for our attention with regards to its unhealed miseries.

We try to oppress those hurts with busyness, distractions or addictions, rather than open them up for the healing of Christ; and we become mentally and / or physically sick in the process.

We yearn for connection, all the while living out a life from an illusion of being separated from God, other people and our true selves, that we concoct through self-judgment over our roles (actual or perceived) in past events. That illusion gives birth to thoughts and actions that are derogatory to both ourselves and those around us – making the separation real.

This ultimately leads to a life wasted in a flurry of unfulfilling exertions to still the fear of abandonment and to attempt to survive in a world of our own making. So, we suffer. But, it is in our fleshly nature to look for pleasure and avoid suffering. That keeps us trapped in a place that prevents us from understanding, accepting and loving ourselves. Furthermore, the incessant search to soothe the flesh gnaws away at the joy in our spirit, which is toxic to the soul.

Sounds grim, yes? And that’s exactly the way our adversary wants to keep us:

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry] seeking someone to devour. 1 Pt. 5:8 AMP

Everyone suffers from this dilemma at one time or another; it’s only a matter of degrees.

We see then, why it’s so important for those who have been blessed with salvation to reach out to everyone sitting on the unsaved side on the fence, and show them the way of God’s grace towards their own healing. Of course, to be the most effective at the ‘Great Commission,’* we must have submitted ourselves for His healing as well.

* “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mk. 16:15 NKJV

So, going back to 1 Pt. 5:8 above, we see that to ‘be ‘sober, alert and cautious at all times’  (emphasis mine), demands that we live in the present moment rather than die in the ways of the past. We cannot connect with God or receive His gifts of salvation (healing, peace, revelatory guidance and eternal life but to name a few) unless we are living in the ‘here and now’ with Him.

No one knows us better than our Creator. That’s good because so many times we bury the past that drives us under many layers of unconsciousness. So, we can ask our blessed Mediator (Christ) to search our hearts and help us see the sources of our suffering and sorrow that robs us of the life He came to bring us.

“…know the God of your Father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.” 1 Chr. 28:9 NKJV

…the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weaknesses…[knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf…And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Rom. 8;26 – 28. AMP

We’ve got to grab a hold of God while we still draw breath, praying for revelation about the strategies that we’ve constructed that keep us in the world of the past. And then we can pray with exactitude about how to take on godly characteristics to thrust that construct from our lives. Then, we will be free to serve God in freeing others with the same afflictions by leading them to His salvation.

It is in the telling of that redemption where we’ll find that the truth about salvation sells itself.

Salvation is that where God gives the breakers of His law another opportunity to reach righteousness through the gospel of Christ Jesus – freeing His children from His wrath of judgment, filling them with peace and joy of the Spirit.

It changes the recipient by filling his or her heart with love, saving them by freely granting them the righteousness the law demands that they could not possibly fulfill on their own.

For Christ is the end of the law [it leads to Him and its purpose is fulfilled in Him], for [granting] righteousness to everyone who believes [in Him as Savior]. Rom. 10:4 AMP

God loves everyone:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Pt. 1:2 – 4. NKJV

The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Pt. 3:9 AMP

He is willing and waiting to bring everyone into His everlasting kingdom.

The only ones who will not gain entrance are those who steadfastly refuse to be saved. God will not violate free will, He won’t compel.

Indeed, this is why we must first teach others the Law of God so that they can see their utter helplessness to save themselves without His mercy. They must understand the deathly consequences of the contamination of sin. Then, the hearer can understand the need for Christ – first by gaining the knowledge of the gospel and then accepting it wholeheartedly by faith, whereby we receive and live under His grace and find our satisfaction in Him.

God wants you to rise above your worldly misery and accept His merciful gift of His Son’s work on the cross. He will never refuse you. He wants you to come to Him as you are, not as you wished you would be:

My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. Ps. 51:17 AMP

God is ready and willing to work with you – because He loves you so much…

Goodnight and God bless.