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Monday, March 4, 2019

Go Into All the World (from the Jonah Series by Priscilla Shirer)

We are now in our 5th Week of our ladies' Bible study series called Jonah:  Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer.  This week, we have been introduced to Jonah.  We've discussed the fact that sometimes life interruptions don't always make sense. We've talked about the consequences of running away from God's calling.  We've learned to admit our mistakes and turning back to God.  We've been encouraged by the truth that God is a God of second chances.  Now, that we have all that behind us, we are free to boldly go into all the world as the Lord tells us to do in what is known as the Great Commission.  We find the Great Commission in the book of Matthew.

Image Credit:  WikiImages - CCO Public Domain Image via Pixabay
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20

This week I was reminded of something I already knew but needed a refresher.  The Great Commission is not something we do once and then we're done.  It's not something we can check off of a list after going on a mission trip or even several mission trips.  The Great Commission is something we live.  
We must remember that sharing Jesus is supposed to be a way we live, not just something we do. - Priscilla Shirer
When we are placed in situations we feel are beyond our control, we are forced to rely on God and God alone to sustain us.  When we have no choice, we have no choice.  
God purposefully put Paul in a situation beyond his control.  He gave the apostle a constant reminder of his need to rely on and connect with Him.  Without this thorn, Paul might have slipped into arrogance, but this pressing need continually reminded him of his frailty. - Priscilla Shirer
God doesn't send us into strange and dangerous territories alone and He doesn't send us without first preparing hearts for our arrival.   God goes before us.
God has been at work in the situation long before we are scheduled to arrive and He is preparing a way for our obedience to make a difference.  - Priscilla Shirer

Simple obedience can have a powerful effect.  Responding in obedience can have an eternal effect on one person which will result in a "triple effect" scenario.  Your one act of simple obedience can have an effect on someone down the road that you don't even know.  Consider the following acts of simple obedience.
Esther's act of bravely going to the king to save her people resulted in the salvation of her entire race.  Consider Ruth choosing to leave Moab behind to follow her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.  She met Boaz and became part of the lineage of the Messiah.  Joshua just walked around Jericho's walls and they came crashing down.  Peter just kept his eyes on Jesus and was able to walk on water.  Each of these scenarios provides a gripping reminder of the impact choices we make can have, even when they seem inconsequential. - Priscilla Shirer
Once again, I learned something new inside the pages of the Jonah story.  The message God told Jonah to proclaim is this:  Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.  (Jonah 3:4)

The part I never stopped to ponder before were those first three words - Yet forty days.

Why did God give Nineveh 40 days after Jonah's proclamation?  Why didn't he respond immediately after Jonah had arrived?

Much faster than Jonah probably imagined, Nineveh responded favorably to his message which resulted in a great revival in the land.  Then, God did something amazing.  He changed His mind about the calamity He had planned to pour out over the land of Nineveh.

I'll ask again, "Why did God give them 40 days?"  It was because God didn't want to punish the people of Nineveh.  He wanted them to respond favorably and worship Him - and they did.

If God had planned to punish Nineveh no matter how they responded, then there would be no need to give them 40 days.  Jonah could have preached one day and God could have brought calamity on them the next.

God is just, but He is also merciful and eager to extend grace to us.

God doesn't always change His mind.  Sometimes a child still dies as in the case of King David (and also in my own personal case a long time ago).  Sometimes God responds in a way that is not in line with the way we had hoped He would, but His ways and His purpose for our lives are always best even if we can't see the full picture.  We simply have to trust Him.

How do we respond to God when He works in a way that is not in line with what we ask or perhaps the outcome is directly the opposite of what we ask?

We can follow the example of King David.
16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. 18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” 20 So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate. - 2 Samuel 12:16-20
 You'll find all my posts about this Bible study here.

This has been only a short summary of what Priscilla Shirer's Bible study has to offer.  I recommend that you complete the entire study either at home or at your church with a group.  You'll find the complete leader kit here.

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