Devotional

Jonah’s Judgment

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Jonah 4

Today there seems to be an imperious spirit among the developed nations. Everyone has an opinion and without hesitation it is expressed in public. Talk shows on TV abound with the wisdom of every person bold enough to tell the most intimate details of their lives, in order to prove some point. How much error is promoted as evidence of truth! It is my opinion against yours.

The prophet Jonah was ahead of his time. He was willing to go to war with God over whose opinion ranked first. The word of the Lord came to Jonah, but Jonah ran away (Jonah 1:1-3). Surely he had read “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). David knew it was impossible to escape from God’s all-seeing eyes.

What motivated his flight? Jonah was convinced God was making a mistake. He knew in his heart of hearts that God was ready to pour out His love and forgiveness on an evil nation, enemy of Israel – the Ninevites (4:2). He was called to administer God’s mercy to Nineveh. Without considering the consequences, Jonah fled.

Jonah was justified in condemning the Ninevites. They were an ungodly nation internationally known for atrocities in war, and in peace. There was absolutely nothing about this nation that was worthy of being saved, yet here was GOD, Yahweh, willing to bring them to repentance, and He wanted to use Jonah. Nothing doing!

In Jonah’s judgment this was a mistake that would ruin the Israelites. After all the Ninevites were heathens to begin with, and Gentiles – the very people God had told Israel to keep away from for fear they would be spiritually contaminated by their evil practices. Israel would disgrace the very God they served by association with these people! Perhaps Jonah feared his own interpretation of the Word of the Lord that had come to him. He wasn’t going to get involved.

Just suppose these people, hardened and ungodly, decided to turn from their wicked ways. Difficult as that was to imagine, there were questions – how they would worship together, for one? No, Jonah couldn’t trust God for that sort of a miracle.


Then there was the issue of grace…..God’s grace had been withheld from various heathen nations surrounding the promised land. Why of all of these more deserving people groups would God choose to honour the Ninevites with His grace and mercy?

Reflection:

Does this strike home a chord within our own hearts as we think judgmentally of people groups we feel are unworthy of God’s favour? In light of Jonah’s default, let us examine our own hearts to see if in the twenty-first century we might be guilty of similar attitudes, judgment. Might we be at war with God over the fact that He is not willing that any should perish?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional · Uncategorized

My Sin is Ever Before Me

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Psalm 51

In this Psalm of penitence David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing. He fears what life would be like without the presence of God. The distress causing David to pray this way is the very real understanding of how his life had failed to please God. His sin was ever in his face. Was he not forgiven?

The Bible tells us that all children of God are saints. The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” So who is a saint today? Paul talks about equipping the saints (KJV) [‘God’s people’ NIV] for works of service, for the purpose of maturing His Church (Ephesians 4:12). However the saints need prayer (Ephesians 6:18) Why?

Paul answers this question. In the passage where he addresses the equipment needed by children of God to fight the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11), Paul warns the church at Ephesus to always keep on praying for the saints; in other words for one another, even for him (6:18-19a). Isn’t it comforting to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints (Romans 8:27). We also read that God guards the feet of His saints (1 Samuel 2:9).

Both Old Testament and New tell us about saints who sing God’s praises (Psalm 30:4), who love and fear the Lord. In a triumphant song of praise the Psalmist writes “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour!” (Psalm 149:5). They “will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes! Forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). In the end saints will be given the privilege of judging (1 Corinthians 6:2). With all of this in mind, let’s not be deceived. Sainthood is not for a special few. Neither do we pray to saints for their support – there is nothing in scripture about that. Jesus is the one and only intercessor when we sin, with whom we share our joys and sorrows (Hebrews 7:25).

So, just as David struggled with the memory of his sin, do we also? Yes. The Apostle Paul did; he describes the struggle in Romans 6. However, there is something protective about remembering the awfulness of our sins. If we forget that taking another drink will put us over the edge, that just an innocent flirtation endangers our sexual purity, that overeating is hard on the body, that gossip ruins another’s reputation, may we not yield to temptation more easily?

Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy according to God’s unfailing love! (:1) As much as our sins impact the lives of others, it is against God alone that we have truly sinned (:4). God desires truth – and the truth is I am vulnerable to attack from within and without….but God! He is the source of wisdom and allows us to distinguish between our sinfulness and His holiness. He is the only One who can wash away all my iniquity (:2), who longs to create a new heart in each of us (:10), who saves me from guilt (:14), who knows if my repentance is genuine (:17).

Reflection:
Have you ever done anything that you hate with a passion? How did you deal with it? Are you forgiven? Do you remember it? How does that memory protect you from a repeat performance? Do you come before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart? How does God promise to receive you in that attitude? Are you a saint or a sinner? Isn’t the answer “both”?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Life I Now Live

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Galatians 2:20

Change is ever present in human history. Some people delight in change, but most feel comfortable in what are familiar circumstances. When Paul wrote the words of our title, I wonder if he was reflecting on the life he had lived as a zealous Pharisee. His personality was intense so whatever he took on, he seemed to do it with gusto. Maybe some of us are like that.

Writing to the church at Galatia, Paul is eager to defend faith in Jesus Christ. As a religious Jew Paul had kept the Mosaic law, hoping he would earn eternal life by his good works. There’s a degree of anxiety for anyone trying to earn their way to heaven, isn’t there? What celebration when he discovered he could only get to heaven through Jesus Christ! So, as he wrote to the Galatians “the life I now live”….what was it that made a difference?

Perhaps Paul’s purpose is spelled out in the first verse of his letter. He sees himself as one called by God. When he practised Judaism he also felt called by God to persecute the very One whom he now worshiped. He identifies Jesus Christ as one with God; amazing how Paul learned that the One he had formerly persecuted was actually who He said He was! “The gospel I preached….I received by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). This revelation transformed Paul’s life!

Sometimes we find it difficult to define words and grace, God’s grace, may be one of them. It was a meaningful concept to Paul. He talked about the grace of Christ (1:6). Although he was “advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (1:14), God called him into His service, by His grace. The church leaders in Jerusalem recognized that this persecutor of the church had indeed been saved by God’s grace (2:9), agreeing Paul and Barnabas should become missionaries to the Gentiles. Who better than one who was also a Roman citizen?

God’s grace rules out any possibility of man accomplishing his own salvation. It is the gift from God (Ephesians 2:8)….a gift which must be believed and received (John 1:12). Paul wouldn’t set aside that fact for any consideration. If there was any other way to eternal life, then Christ died for nothing (2:21). Totally committed to faith in Jesus Christ, Paul was a changed man with a new life. So he writes about the “new life I now live” (2:20).

This new life includes freedom from guilt of the past, power for living the present and hope for the future when we reach our heavenly home. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery [to sin]” (Galatians 5:1). This new life gives us the power to forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven and to restore. “If someone has been caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Paul goes on to assert there is ministry for us all in that we then are qualified to “carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2).

Reflection:

Carrying someone else’s burden call for grace. We need the fruit of the Holy spirit to equip us for that task. Only when we are changed, given new life, do we qualify as servants of God. Then we will experience the fulness of life in Christ, which brings richness, purpose and joy to the “now” in which we live.