Week Five sure has flown by for me. Has it for any of you? I can't believe we only have two weeks left on our Jonah journey...my how far we've traveled! Finally, we have reached Nineveh and see how God used one doubting man to change a nation's heart. Wow. If you are just joining us, have no worries. Feel free to catch up with weeks one through four if you type in Jonah bible study in the search bar. What always amazes me about bible studies is how the teachers can take a four chapter book of the Bible and expand it into a seven-week study. Priscilla has taken her time showing us how God's divine intervention can transform our lives...if we are willing.
I think that is what was so amazing about the Ninevites. Here they were, a nation of unbelievers and on the FIRST day that Jonah arrived, he had the WHOLE nation converted to follow God. How's that for a willing heart?
On Day One, Priscilla began with one of my personal favorite bible verses, Matthew 28:19:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
If you remember from this post, God used the word "Go" to change mine and Raleigh's lives. What power is in this simple statement: Go and make disciples. Priscilla writes, "In the Greek language go is an aorist participle, which means it takes on the mood of the command - making disciples." She goes on to say, "We must remember that sharing Jesus is supposed to be a way we live, not just something we do." I couldn't agree with her more. The hard thing is the routine. If you are like me, you might be consumed to a life that surrounds your house: baby raising, cleaning, errands, etc. and it might be tough to think of someone who we are around daily that is an un-believer. But, what if we thought about the clerk at the check-out line of Publix? Or, the guy that comes and fixes our leaky faucets? If we broaden our scope, we will find that sharing Jesus is about the way we live...and how we interact with others.
On Day Two, Priscilla gets personal and asks us to consider our own divine interruptions. She told us to make a list of what God is asking of us that seems too big or overwhelming for us to handle. Friends, I must say I had a couple of items on my list. This past week has been a wake up call to me that God will take care of the things that are way too overwhelming for me to do alone. I loved the verses that she quoted at the end of the lesson:
"My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The second verse was something that I needed to memorize so it became this month's memory verse. A couple of weeks ago, I helped out at our church's VBS. The leaders taught the kids to punch their fists in the air and yell "Thank You God!" for how much He loves us. When I hear that my God will supply all of my needs - especially my overwhelming desires that can't be accomplished alone - that makes me want to stand up and shout, "Thank You God!"
On Day Three, Priscilla says, "When we are up against a task that appears too grand for us to undertake, we must remember:
1. We are right. It most likely is too big for us to handle.
2. If God is calling us to it, He will equip us for it.
3. God has been at work in the situation long before we are scheduled to arrive, and He is preparing the way for our obedience to make a difference."
Just like Jonah, we have to be obedient during our divine interruptions. We have to follow Him even when we want to quit or don't want to go in the first place. We must believe that God has given us gifts especially for this task and He wants us to succeed because our hearts are in line with His. When we began this study, I mentioned that I was going to a writer's conference called She Speaks. I will be sharing more about that conference in a later post, but what I want to tell all of you today is I am having to practice these three points daily since I have returned home from the conference. Friends, let me tell you that Satan is doing everything that he can to stop me from being obedient to God's calling. He has made me sluggish, downcast, and I have struggled immensely with my confidence. I know that what God wants me to do is so much bigger than what I can handle. In order for me to be obedient, I have forced myself to work at it a little each day - especially on the days that I want to throw in the towel. Because I have to believe that God is getting me ready to arrive on time and I can't let Satan delay me.
I love the quote that Priscilla shares on Day Four about who God is. She says, "He is a wildest dreams catcher. He can do beyond that which you can imagine as He uses your obedience as a foundation for what He is building." Is that not affirming or what?!?
On Day Five, we switch the gears just a bit and focus on the final verse of Jonah 3, "When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it." This verse raises the question, "Does God change His mind?" She uses the examples of David fasting for his dying child (2 Sam. 12:22) and the prophet Joel as he prophesied tot he nation of Israel (Joel 2:14). Priscilla says, "They believed God was powerful enough and sovereign enough to steer their circumstances however He wished. They left room for "who knows" in their walk with the Lord. They simply did their part and then trusted God would do His even if what He might choose would be different from what they desired."
Last year, in the early days of our NICU experience, I clearly remember asking God to keep my girls alive. I didn't know if that was His plan for them but I knew that He would hear my prayers. I'll be honest, I desperately hoped that my prayers would change His mind. But, I also remember that I had to trust Him even if He chose differently. Sweet friends, that was the hardest act of obedience I have ever had to submit myself to. At the end of the day, we can only do so much. We don't know God's plans. But, God does. God chose to be compassionate to the Ninevites instead of destroying their nation. He had mercy on them and He saw their repentance. We must believe that He sees that in us too. That He is on our side and longs to help us handle the way too big stuff. To follow Him, we must be obedient.
Till next time, let your light shine!