Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jonah Week Six


This is a good song to start with. God is the God of the nations. He always has been. Jonah gives us an up close and personal view of this. When God told Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him, The book of Jonah is showing us what some of that will look like. Opening up salvation to gentile sailors and evil Ninevites, how scandalous? To God's chosen people this would seem so strange.

Well after an amazing revival last week, we now see Jonah at a low point. He would rather die than watch these people repent. Read all of Jonah 4 here.

It really opens up some hard questions for us to examine of ourselves.
In verse one what emotion was Jonah feeling?

In revival we usually rejoice! But Jonah was not in the rejoicing mood. Jonah is not just experiencing your average everyday kind of angry either. In the Hebrew this verse is expressed as this being a great calamity. Jonah is burning with anger. He is literally hot. He is not a happy camper seeing this repentance. Though ironically he was just forgiven for his sin and God saved Him by His great mercy. He received it but did not accept it for others. Before you judge Jonah though don't we often do the same?

Jesus called it the log in the eye issue. Matthew 7:5 states, " Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye." Often we have this glaring issue that we cannot see though it is blinding us, yet we see the small thing in someone else. We want to judge them but not deal with our won stuff. How have you seen yourself doing this?

Now in verse two we see why Jonah ran in the first place. Jonah knew something about God that we and the world need to know. Verse two is stated like this, "So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people."

Jonah knows God is:
  • merciful - or gracious is used only of God and used 13 times in the Old Testament. (The NIV Application Commentary)
  • compassionate - The primary meaning of this word is "to be soft like a womb" (NIV Application Commentary) I love that picture of God.
  • slow to anger - The Hebrew expression means "forbear, continue long, be patient, postpone anger, tarry long" (NIV Application Commentary).
  • filled with unfailing love - This is the more intense word for love in Hebrew (hesed) and is best understood as  God's unrelenting love, which is God's covenant commitment to his people. With this unrelenting love he binds himself to His promises to them (NIV Application Commentary).
Picture taken from

Then in verse three Jonah states, "Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen." Jonah cannot stand it that these enemies will be forgiven and not judged. He would rather just die. He is so angry. So unforgiving. He is being the opposite of God right now. But I must admit I have been here as well. We must remember God forgave us, no one is beyond forgiveness. We are hypocrites to expect any different. We cannot accept forgiveness for ourselves and not freely extend it to others. It does not work that way. I am sure it is easier for us to see this since we are on the other side of the cross. We have been grafted into the family of God. I am so thankful for that. I am so thankful for God's pursuit.

So God intervenes here. He asks Jonah a simple question, "Is it right for you to be angry about this?"

We need to examine our own hearts here. When we are angry, we need to ask ourselves this same question. Is it right for us to be angry about this? God's love and grace is scandalous! We have no right to say who can or cannot be forgiven by God. Now this phrase can be translated more like this, "Is it causing good that you burn with anger?" (NIV Application Commentary).

God tells us in Ephesians 5:26-27, “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."and Hebrews 12:15 states, "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled."
How can you see either of these things causing trouble? Give practical examples.

Jonah ignores God. He does not answer the questions and moves out to a place where he can observe the city. He was waiting to see what happened. God uses this time to teach Jonah a lesson using His creation.

God first provides a nice vine to shade Jonah. It made him comfortable and happy. God also though in His wisdom appointed a worm to chew and cause this plant to die. Also He made an uncomfortable hot (like Jonah's previous anger) wind blow making Jonah faint. Jonah wished to die again. Clearly he is only happy in his circumstances that work out the way he thinks is right. However, God uses these things to bring Jonah back to Him and back to conversing with Him again.

I love how God continues to pursue us. Psalm 119:71 states, "My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees." This is what we see happening with Jonah.
Have you seen this happen in your own life? Explain.

God then says,  “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
I like this question God asked. It is pretty similar to questions God asked Job after he questioned God. Job was humbled by this. You can read that in Job 38-42. It just makes you sit back and stand in awe of God.

We as humans cannot fathom God's ways. But we can trust them. He is amazing and His love for us is great. In this alone we need to trust Him. God does not have to answer our questions. He is good and unpredictable.  He is sovereign and we cannot understand. Just as a parent may give instructions to a child, they cannot always understand them but need to obey. We are like this with God. We must trust. His goodness and loving kindness need to be enough.
But Jonah answered in a poor way. In Jonah 4: 9 he says, “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

Oh poor Jonah. He is not looking outward at God and His amazing character instead his eyes are focused on himself. Having a pity party is never a good way to behave. It only leads to bad things. This is what Jonah is doing. But God is still not giving up on His servant. 

This is how God replies,"Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (Jonah 4:10-11).

God really cares for all He made. Psalm 104:31 states, "May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!" God ends this discourse and book of Scripture with a question. We do not know how Jonah replies. The point is however, how will we reply? Will we continue to withhold mercy from our enemies or extend it?

It gives us a time to just be amazed by God. He saw that these people He made are in spiritual darkness, they are blinded and He takes pity on them. He goes to them and gives them a chance to repent. He wants Jonah to realize that he was feeling sorry for a destroyed plant that he had nothing to do with, so how much more should God be concerned about a people He created.

It reminds me of Jesus. He said, "“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He made this statement while on the cross. While soldiers were dividing his clothes by lot and while people sneered at him. After he was severely beaten and nailed up on the cross. Jesus said, "forgive them they do not know what they are doing." Now if that is not mercy I do not know what is. If that is not love then I do not know what is. This is who we worship. This is who we follow. This is who God is conforming us to be more and more like. Jesus.

I liked this statement, "God does not suggest that justice should not or will not eventually be done. He simply argues that he would rather forgive and take the risks of letting evil persist in the world. This is a difficult dilemma for people of faith" (The NIV Application Commentary). Later you will see that Ninevah is destroyed. I am not sure how long repentance lasted but the book of Nahum makes it clear they are no longer people who are repentant.

1- Give an example of a time you gladly received mercy but became angry when it was extended to someone else.

2- Are you struggling to forgive someone? Talk about it here. Don't use names but let's walk through it in community and walk through complete healing. Possibly even reconciliation

3- Above I used Scriptures Ephesians 5:26-27 and Hebrews 12:15.
How can you see either of these things causing trouble? Give practical examples.

4- Has God used creation to teach you a lesson about His character?

5- I love how God continues to pursue us. Psalm 119:71 states, "My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees." This is what we see happening with Jonah.
Have you seen this happen in your own life? Explain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Radical Together by David Platt

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I just have to be honest. I loved Radical. It was an amazing kick in the pants kind of book. It really made me think long and hard about how I approach life and steward all that God has given us. When I saw shortly after that book that Radical Together came out I was pretty skeptical. I was thinking perhaps the publisher was squeezing all they could out of this popular book title and quickly got another one out.

However, reading the book proved me wrong. This was a good message. I was glad it was written. It focuses on community and the radical lifestyle. Where the last book focused mostly on individuals. It also addressed the issue of my fears about radical, those who would read it and feel guilt. I really liked that too. It was gospel centered and promoted gospel centered living. It was another really good read.

The questions you will ask after this book are focused on community. How are we using our resources as a community? How are we using our time? Are we using it all in the best possible way we can in order to spread the gospel and make disciples?

I really can recommend this book. It is a good read and something we all could read to evaluate how we approach community.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Spiritual Warfare For Women by Leighann McCoy

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I really enjoyed this book. Too often we forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world. When we forget this our families or people can become our enemy. We need to be conscience of the fact that the enemy is wandering around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He does not fight fair. He will use offense to cause division in our lives with one another.

This book is a reminder of this and a call to really be serious about protecting our homes and churches. We must choose to live the way Jesus intended for us to live. We must pray for our children and husbands. We must read HIS word and keep it readily available to us. We have to renew our minds continually. The enemy will try to stir things up. I loved how this book was a reminder of these things to me.

This book is very Scriptually based. In fact the author gives verses she suggests we memorize after each chapter. It is broken up into discovering who our real enemy is, what he targets, who we are in Christ. It is a good read and one I do recommend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence Richards

I received a copy of this ebook free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I really enjoyed this book. It is filled with great scientific information and illustrated brilliantly with detailed pictures. It also has great questions at the end of each chapter for more information and discussion. It is very Biblically focused and highlights God's word throughout. It would be a wonderful science curriculum for middle or High school students. The book covered the topic of the difference of Creationism vs The Theory of Evolution.

I really enjoyed this book. I even learned some things that I did not know. If we did not already have our science curriculum this year this would be the book I would be using. I highly recommend it. However, I would recommend it in book form not ebook. I do think you will not be disappointed with this one just to learn more about the argument of Creationism vs Evolution or to use with your students.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon click on the link above.

Women of Faith Atlanta Experience

Booksneeze sent me two tickets to the Women of Faith conference for the purpose of a review. I was ecstatic! I really love women's conferences. There is just a beautiful experience that happens when women come together in the Lord for the purpose of worship. The worship leaders were so good. One thing my friend and I did wish for was more worship time.

I loved however how they balanced speakers well. I also loved how they had two mini concerts mixed in. Natalie Grant and Mary Mary were wonderful!

I was worried that the conference would consist mostly of personal testimony. However, it was very gospel centered and laced with Scripture all throughout. I liked this too. Consistently the speakers kept pointing us to Jesus.

The imagine tour is the one that came to us in Atlanta Georgia. The theme of this tour was Ephesians 3:20, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

I enjoyed each speaker and tweeted lines that I loved through the conference. Here are just a few of the things said I enjoyed,

  • Steven arteburn up...if u had a husband willing to die for u it would be dumb for u not to submit. #wofimage
  • U have to interpret the Bible with the Bible. Arterburn #wofimage must choose obedience to God& word.
  • Q&A time...many about forgiveness...lots of hurting and wounded among us. Lord please heal. #wofimage
  • Peace is not the abscence of trouble it is the prescence of Christ. ~Sheila Walsh #wofimage
  • Natalie Grant concert next! Woot Woot. God has used her music to encourage me so. #wofimage
  • If God wants to keep me weak to shore Him strong I am ok with that. ~Laura Story #wofimage
  • The sheppard know where to find you. ~sheila walsh #wofimage you are not alone in anything
  • The great message of the gospel is that you get to come as you are. ~Sheila Walsh #wofimage
  • Just a sec ago i could almost reach out and touch Mary Mary..hushed scream! Heart ck hope it is not an idol :) #wofimage
  • Wow...Angie Smith...i have no words but would love to be your new bff. #wofimage
  • Another observation abt #wofimage they love their families. All kids and spouses are here. Love that. 
Two things I did not like were the push of the book Heaven is for Real and the push for people to sponsor World Vision children. A sponsor needs to be whole heartedly into this not guilted into it which I fear women may fall into. It could have been done differently. It is not necessary to put cards on everyone's chairs and have the world vision people every few rows to see if someone will sponsor. Just as God desires a cheerful heart in giving, this should be the case in sponsoring.

Overall it was a great experience. The conferences include box lunches for two days which is an added bonus. Things seemed organized. It is impressive to see such a huge program run so smoothly. I returned home encouraged and had a wonderful time with my sweet friend. Very glad we went.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Book Review: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I was excited to get a copy of this book because I have been doing some heart inventory work of my own. Our hearts are deceitful is what the Bible tells us so taking a good long look at our hearts is very beneficial for our well being.

This book addresses four issues of the heart. Guilt, anger, greed and jealousy were looked at in detail in this book. It was very interesting to see how these do correlate with our behaviors. I liked the examples he used throughout this book. I also liked the solutions he gave to these heart issues.

Another thing I liked about this book was that the author did not act like an expert in this area or act like he had it all together with these things. I liked he wrote honestly as someone like me who struggles in areas of the heart. If we are honest we all do. It gave me some good things to think about.

To get a copy of this book click on the link above.

Jonah Week Five

Oh the joy of a second chance! I am so happy that we serve a God who loves us enough to give us second, third, fourth, and infinite number of chances. God is so good. If we are in Christ then we are clean. Period. I love that.

Love this song! Listen to it to prepare your heart. I think it is a good song of thankfulness especially after given a second chance. Oh how loved we are by HIM.

We start this week with Jonah being given the task again. Chapter 3 opens this way, "Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you (NLT).”

Now this translation really blows my mind and I hope it does yours too. Literally translated in the Hebrew it is, "Ninevah was a great city to God." To God can be translated as an idiom for very (The NIV Application Commentary). WOW! Eventhough the Ninevites were cruel people these people and this city was important to God. That is why He even paid attention to its wickedness. God could have destroyed it in an instance but because of His love and compassion He sent His prophet Jonah.

Psalm 24:1 states, "The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it." God cares for all people on this Earth. Even if we think they are unlovable or not worth caring about. Christ died for all people who would come to Him. Yet He gives us a choice in love to do good or evil.

The word in the original language is used again when God tells Jonah to arise. Remember in Chapter one Jonah did arise but went the opposite direction. This time we see Jonah rise and go the right direction. Read the rest of Chapter 3 here.

Before I really studied this and before I had a look at the map I just assumed God had the whale spit Jonah out right at the city of Ninevah. However looking at the map again that is not possible. Jonah would have most likely had to start over again and make that 500 mile trek to Ninevah. Then upon arriving the city was so big it took 3 days to get through it.

Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah 3:4

The word in the Hebrew here for began is important as well. The word in its simplest form means pierce. It implies he had to let go (The NIV Application Commentary). For Jonah to now follow through on this message of preaching to his enemy he had to let go of things that caused him to feel the need to run away in the first place.

Jonah's message is simple, "“Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!(Jonah 3:4(NLT))” A message of judgment. What Jonah wanted for these people in his heart. However, in the original Hebrew the word for destroyed here does mean judgment but it also can mean bring repentance. The word means turn over leaving room for the possibility of repentance. Jonah would have known what this meant and would have known it could go either way. It was up to God.

However, did Jonah's heart change after the Great Fish incident? We will soon find out. But now he gets to give this message. He obeys and immediately the next verse states, "The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow (Jonah 3:5, NLT)."

What an amazing response! The people took this seriously and were sad. Interestingly the word for God here is the generic word for god. It is Elohiym which can be used for rulers, false gods, etc. But it can also be used for the One true God. The Ninevites believed this message quickly. Now is that a good gift of evangelism or what?! I think it is important to note that if God gives us an impression to share Christ with someone we need to do it. It is not us who brings someone to God it is God Himself. If He wants us to tell someone we better do it and sit back and watch Him work.

Now I find this even more interesting when the news makes it to the king. The NAS translation states Jonah 3:6 like this, " When the word reached the king of Ninevah, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes." (It is a mini chiastic structure.) This is interesting because the Hebrew words have some significant meaning here. We see here again this word arose. The king rose to action when he heard this news of coming destruction. The wording shows his humility in this situation. He basically lays aside his throne and robe (which is his glory as head of this large nation) and replaces it with humiliation by putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. This is a big deal for a ruler of a nation. Generally the people of a nation will follow the leader of the nation. The leader will be a good reflection of the people in many cases.

This king then proclaims a decree for everyone to fast while putting on sackcloth. Even including the animals. He is serious about this. They are in mourning. They are commanded to turn from their evil ways. They are also commanded to cry out to God with force. They reason that perhaps God will see this and change His mind. God looks at them and sees what they have done and He decides to relent on the coming destruction. What a compassionate God! He is slow to anger and loving and kind.

This is an interesting note. When others outside of the Israel clan address God they do not call Him by His covenant name. This is because these people are not the covenant people. However it is a foreshadowing of God opening up salvation to all, He does this little by little through the old testament. It is a foreshadowing of the fulfillment of the coming Christ. The words spoken to Abraham stating all the nations will be blessed through him. Once Jesus left He gave the command to go out into the world and make disciples. The world would never be the same after that. Because of Christ, us as gentiles can now call out to the covenant God. He is our God, our Father. How amazing is that?

1- Ninevah was a great city to God. Are there any cities you think may be too far gone for God to care about or are beyond God's hope? Or let's apply this to people, are there people that you have considered beyond God's hope? 

2- Now that Jonah has arrived, he must deliver a message to the enemy and watch God work. Have you ever had to do this or know anyone who has? Share. 

3- Part of living the gospel in everyday life is extending grace to others. How has God allowed you to participate in this lately? It may not be like Jonah to an enemy but living amongst people requires much grace.

4- A people will usually follow the spiritual tone of their leaders. We see this all throughout the old testament and in this book of Jonah. How have you seen this in our world today?

5- Do you have a covenant relationship with the One True God? How did He first woe you to Himself?

Chiastic Structure Jonah Chapter Two

Since I am a lover of words and word structure. I had to add something I left out in the study of Jonah Chapter 2. We see a chiasmus in Jonah's Prayer. A definition of Chiamus is, "A grammatical figure by which the order of words in one of two of parallel clauses is inverted in the other" (Oxford English Dictionary).

I love this and you will find it all throughout the Bible. An example of a chiastic structure is this phrase,
We eat to live
not live to eat.
You see how these phrases are turned around from one sentence to the next? That is the structure of a chiasmus.

Jonah 2:2-6 is a chiastic structure.
 A -  2 -“In my distress I called to the LORD and he answered me. 
From depths fo the grave
I called for help,
   and you listened to my cry.
 B -3 You hurled me into the deep,
   into the heart of the seas,
   and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
   swept over me.
 C- 4- I said, ‘I have been banished
   from your sight;
yet I will look again
   toward your holy temple.’
B- 5- The engulfing waters threatened me,
   the deep surrounded me;
   seaweed was wrapped around my head.
A- 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
   the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, LORD my God,
   brought my life up from the pit.

Do you see the order of things here? C represents the central point of things here. It turns things around. This is where we find hope. Also the wording for look toward in the Hebrew here is the same word used when Moses had to make a bronze snake for the Israelites to look at for healing. (Numbers 21:9). I wrote about it here in detail. Here we see the gospel again, pointing us toward Jesus who will come! Don't you love that?!  I just thought this was an interesting thing to add to the study...Sorry I left it out before. Hope you enjoy it like I do. :)
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