HOW WILL GOD GET OUR ATTENTION?
Jonah 2:1-10, 3:1-10
Last week we saw in the example of Jonah that you can run from God but you cannot hide. Let us look at that example one more time for a minute from a different angle. Have you ever had your mom or dad, your boss or coworkers, your husband or wife or even a close friend tell you or, depending on your relationship, ask you to do something and you refused to do it? I still remember one occasion in particular when I did not do what I was supposed to do when I was grade school age, and my dad did not appreciate my resistance. I do not remember what I did or did not do, but I know dad had a punishment in mind I did not like. He was going to give me a spanking and instead of accepting my punishment I tried to run away from dad. He may not have said you can run but you cannot hide, but I think he said something like, “When you get ready to come in, I will be waiting for you!” If I had simply done what I was told to do, that would have never happened. Dad did not do much spanking, so I know what I did deserved the punishment I ultimately got. I do not believe I ever did or did not do something ever again to deserve that kind of teaching moment. Has anyone here done something like that?
In the 2nd chapter, we read what is called Jonah’s prayer. By what Jonah said to God, we can see he realizes he deserved the punishment he was given. Jonah admitted he believed his sin was going to lead to his death. As he saw his life about to end, Jonah saw God’s hand on his life. In the 7th verse Jonah said, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your Holy Temple.” In verse 8 Jonah tells where he truly was in relationship to the Lord. Talking about himself to God, Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” The honesty and the desperation Jonah is feeling made him realize how far from God’s will he had drifted. When Jonah realized his physical life and spiritual life were as good as dead, the Lord helped him to realize it is not too late for things to change. Jonah had been chasing things that had separated him from God. Jonah realized for those who do that you will forfeit the grace God has for all who believe.
How much of the time am I doing and saying the things God wants me to do? Have I, have you, allowed some of the things of this world to have too much space in my life or in your life? How often do we, like Jonah, have to hit rock bottom before we realize we are off course? God has given us examples like Jonah to help us realize to not wait until it seems all is lost. God’s grace is available all the time. God does not want to see us struggle. God wants us to be victorious in every way. Jonah knew God was giving him a new opportunity.
When Jonah realized it, he had a thankful heart for that second chance he was given. Jonah vowed to God, “I will do what you have called me to do.” When we veer off course, do we have the courage and the desire to be like Jonah and say, “I messed up God. Please help me.” After Jonah came to the place of repentance, God had another opportunity in store for Jonah at Nineveh. Right there within easy walking distance of Nineveh, God has the big fish spit Jonah out right on the beach. We often times believe this big fish was a whale, but I believe God created this special fish just for Jonah. He may have been the only one that ever saw this fish. I believe God can do anything. After God had got Jonah’s attention in the most unusual way, God once again told Jonah to take his message to Nineveh. This time Jonah did what God had told him to do. So how did Jonah get greeted when he arrived in Nineveh? He probably did not look the best after riding around inside a fish for three days! On top of that, he is telling everyone how wicked they are. You would think the people of Nineveh, as well as its leaders would say, “Who do you think you are saying this to us?” To remind you of what the scripture said, the city of Nineveh was so big it would take three days to see the entire city. Scholars claim the city probably had around 120,000 people in it. Jonah is basically saying in 40 days this city will cease to exist. So, were the people mad? Were they ready to kill the messenger? No. They accepted the warning and did everything they could do to show God they got the message. Going as far as putting sackcloth on not only the people but also their animals. At this time in history, sackcloth was one of the ways to show you are in sorrow or you are seeking forgiveness for a wrong you have done. The king went as far as to say, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows, God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not parish.” So, what happened after all they deserved to be destroyed because of the evil they had committed against God? God destroyed them, right? No. We read that “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways he had compassion and did not bring upon them destruction.” We see another example of God’s patience and love.
When anyone admits to their mistakes, their sins, God will forgive and restore what was lost. We have seen two examples of God’s mercy and grace. First Jonah not only refused to do what God had called him to do, but also tried to run just as far away as he could. In spite of that, God gave Jonah a second chance. The same thing is true of the city of Nineveh. They were so far off track, God warned them of what was about to happen. Instead of ignoring the warning, they accepted the fact they deserved punishment and as a result God gave them another chance also.
How will God get our attention? We see what it took for Jonah and for Nineveh. What about you and me? Maybe most all of you have already had that moment when God got your attention. If so, what did it take? Was it a gentle nudge? Or was it a rock bottom experience? Or perhaps you saw such an incredible moment of God’s love and mercy that made it real for you from that point on. Everything God does he does because he loves us. What’s your story? We saw what lengths God has to go to sometimes get our attention. Remember God wants us to be blessed while we are on this earth. And the only way that can happen is to recognize God’s love and mercy through Jesus Christ our Savior.
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them busy bees sure be a buzzin
maybe there could be a couple hundred dozen
they all live in a self made hive
where only Pooh seems to be able to survive
we laugh at him ‘cause he is so funny
when he gets a hankerin for some real good hunny
but those workers though really seem to mind
when he visits they sting him in his furry behind
bees do stay quite busy all the day long
their wings a singing a lively song
I often wonder what this devotion all means
working hard for just one queen
longing to study them, I would if I could
but if they object, well that’s not gonna end good
so I keep my distance from God’s creatures that are hard at it
and marvel from a far not stirring them up a bit!
By Robin Shively
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.