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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer (Final Short Summary)

We can't pick and choose when, where, and how God uses His power.  In this first lesson in the 6th week of Jonah:  Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer, we are reminded that Jonah did not initially disobey God because He did not know God, but because he DID know God.  Jonah had considered the people of Nineveh as his enemies.  He knew that God would respond graciously to to the Ninevites if they turned back to God.  Jonah didn't want the Ninevites to experience God's grace.  Jonah wanted them to experience calamity.  While this might seem harsh, I doubt many, if any, of us have escaped the shackles of jealousy when it comes to our "enemies."  Think about it.  Is there someone in your life who experienced God's grace when you thought they didn't deserve it?

Image Credit:  Jan Erik Waider - Public Domain Image via Freely Photos
God's too big for us to control.  You can't pick and choose which of God's attributes you want to see displayed and when and where you want to experience them.  You can't play games with God and expect to win. - Priscilla Shirer
I often pray for the opportunity to experience God's sovereign power.  I want to experience His power when I pray for a loved one to be healed, when I pray for a friend to get the job she has worked hard to get, when I pray for safety for my children, and so forth.  I shouldn't be disappointed when my sovereign God uses His power the way He wants to use it, even if that means He uses it in a way that I don't like.

However . . . we are human so anger, jealousy, and resentment are something we deal with from time to time, maybe even on a regular basis.  In day of this week, Priscilla gave us a list of attributes of God, then she asked us to circle the two that others see least in us.  Whoa!  That was a real eye-opener.  After looking at that list and then focusing on the two attributes I least display in my life, I felt like a heartless meany.  Priscilla goes on to remind us that for the attributes of God to find a home in our hearts, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. 
The fruit of God's Spirit can only be realized in the life of someone who is consistently yielding to the Spirit's work in his or her life.  In other words, the inclination of our flesh will always pull in the opposite direction of what the Spirit seeks to help us do.  We must totally rely on the Holy Spirit to see the effects of His work in our lives. - Priscilla Shirer
In day three, we are asked the question, "How do Jonah's feelings about the plant clearly show a misplacement of priorities?"  The answer to this question should have been clear to me immediately but I had to think about it for a minute before I realized that Jonah was not just happy, but extremely happy, about the favor God was showing to him, but he was angered about the favor God was showing to others.



Does the attitude in hour hearts ever reflect the same attitude displayed in Jonah's?  If we are being honest, then we would need to admit that we sometimes feel the same way that Jonah felt.  This attitude means that there is a gap between our hearts and God's heart that needs mending.
Are we willing to extend grace to others as God has extended it to us?  Do a quick self-inventory and consider this:  When God graciously takes care of our needs, shows up in our discomfort, or calms our anxieties, our first inclination should be to offer an extension of those same healing properties to someone else.  His grace to us should make us more gracious to others. - Priscilla Shirer

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
 We are asked to personalize 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.  Let's try that.

Blessed be the God and Father of MY Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts ME in all MY affliction so that "I" will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which "I MYSELF" am comforted by God.

Wow, that sheds a little more light on our mission wherever we are right now, doesn't it?  Have you been afflicted?  Has God comforted you in your affliction?  Then you must comfort others as God has comforted you.  There is no other way to translate that.

God really wanted to get Jonah's attention.  He sent a storm, a big fish, a withering plant, a hot sun, and ab uncomfortable wind to teach Jonah life lessons.  Priscilla points out that we don't know how this story ends.  However she emphasizes that the ending of Jonah's story is not important.  What is important is how we will allow Jonah's story to impact our own lives.  I love the way she ended the last page.
The rest of your story is yet to be written.
The pen of Heaven is waiting.
The perspective of God is offered.
Onward, modern-day Jonah.
The best is yet to come. - Priscilla Shirer
 You can find all posts about this Bible study series here.

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