Well, hello again! I am so happy to have you joining me on this journey of discovering God's word through the book, Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. Here, we are on Week Three. How are you liking it so far? Have you been consistent with your homework? With it only being five days, it gives me a chance to catch up if I miss a day. If you have found that you are a little behind, go ahead and just start fresh with week 4 today and then when the time is right, you can go back and do the lessons you missed. Life is busy and God knows how much we juggle but discovering His word each day should still remain one of our top focuses.
So, on with Week Three. If you are just joining us for the first time, here are links to Week One and Two. The theme of Week Three is: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures. We begin with Day 1 where the sailors ask what they should do to Jonah since his God was obviously causing the storm. To compare Jonah's storm with our own life storms, Priscilla writes, "We easily become paralyzed by fear or guilt when our lives seem to whirl out of control. A glimpse at our lives with all of their spinning parts can make us dizzy with disgust at the mess we may have made. It's easier to just sit, soak, and be sour. That's what the enemy would like."
Friends, I have been in a constant battle with the enemy lately. We have had something come up in our personal lives that has truly made us "dizzy with disgust." As she says, it has been so easy to "sit, soak, and be sour" but we are doing our very best to GIVE IT TO GOD. I am reminded of my trust in my Savior and how He makes all things work together for my good. He is my Provider and I have to give Him my worries so I don't remain sick to my stomach. Have any of you ever been in a place like this? It's not fun.
To get out of the disgusting pit, Priscilla gives us four significant New Testament principles for reconciling with God. We need to:
1. Acknowledge our sin
2. Accept God's discipline
3. Ask for forgiveness
4. Act on God's direction
On Day Two, we find out that Jonah is a castaway. Surprisingly, "he did not fight the correction God allowed." It was like he was doing steps 1 and 2 above - acknowledging his sin for going against God's will and accepting God's discipline. Priscilla goes on to say that, "The discipline God allowed was not meant to punish Jonah; it was meant to prepare him." She also says that, "God's goal for us is that we mature into spiritual adults who have tender hearts that mirror His."
Now that Jonah has acknowledged his sin and accepted God's discipline, we find him on Day Three learning to let go of his own goals and embrace God's task for him. We have to remember that Jonah was a prophet so he knew God very intimately. Even though he knew God, he did not agree with God and that is why he was now stuck inside a big fish in the middle of the ocean. Haven't we as Christians all been in a place at one point in our lives where we didn't agree with God's will? We wanted to pull the brakes and stop the train from heading in that direction. I know I sure have. From moving to Montgomery to dealing with the girls in the NICU, I did not always have a willing heart. But, one thing that helped me to align my heart with God's will was prayer. Jonah's prayer in chapter 2 was, "I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!"
Jonah asked for forgiveness in his prayers. Friends, is there any area of your life where you need to ask God for forgiveness so you can move forward?
On Day Four, we see that Jonah is now on step four, which is going in God's direction. He says in 2:9, "But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord." *Jonah taught us that any time is a good time to set your sights and actions on obedience. He let go of what he wanted to do and was obedient to the Lord's calling on his life. Wow, isn't that a lesson we all need to learn? Priscilla gives us a quote that a woman said to Chuck Swindoll, "Whatever you are holding on to in this life, hold it loosely so it won't hurt when the Lord has to pry your fingers open to take it away."
Finally, to end the week with Day Five, Priscilla goes back to prayer - the communication that changed Jonah's heart so he was in line with what God had called him to do. Friends, one thing that I hope you get from this week's lesson is the power of prayer. It can move mountains and even get you out of the belly of a fish; it's that powerful. When we pray, we need to pray with grateful hearts. Jonah was so grateful that the Lord kept him safe and alive during the storm. The last words of his prayer was, "Deliverance is from the Lord." * I found it so interesting in Priscilla's lesson about how in its original language that this word sounds so much like the Hebrew name of Jesus, which has meant deliverance and salvation for the peoples of the world. Friends, even if you have committed your life to Christ, we can still offer him a prayer of grateful hearts for him delivering us from this world.
I sure hope you enjoyed Week Three. What was your favorite part of this lesson today? Feel free to comment below.
Join me again next week, as we dig into Week Four.
Till next time, let your light shine!
*Excerpts taken from Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. Shirer, Priscilla